UAA students should get ready to see a little more foot traffic than normal in the corridor running through the center of the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. That’s because several significant upgrades are getting ready to take place for the sports facility.
Among the more visible upgrades to take place over the summer is the relocation and rejuvenation of the UAA hockey team’s training facilities and student fitness center. In addition, the space the hockey locker room currently occupies will be transformed into a heavy-lifting room. The intramural sports offices will also turn into a new student workout facility. Among the less visible, but equally, if not more, important upgrades, will be the installation of a new air conditioning and fire alarm systems.
“The ice rink is not the only reason it’s cold (in the Wells Fargo),” joked Kristin Reynolds, project manager with UAA Facilities and Campus Services. She says the complex has several outdated mechanical units.
It will be the most remodeling the building has seen in its 36-year history. And that means this job will cost some money.
Facilities and Campus Services is allotting $10 million in deferred maintenance funds on the project, which includes everything from the architectural design to the construction to the operating fees.
“This was a very high priority to continue to make this building functional and not ‘mothball’ it,” said Reynolds. “In order to do that — considering the value of the building, the value of building a replacement building somewhere else — $10 million is a good investment.”
The student recreation room, currently wedged between the ice rink and gymnasium, will be moved to the second floor in the area currently used by intramurals. All but the hockey team’s offices were moved to the Alaska Airlines Center last fall.
“One of the main purposes of removing athletics as much as possible from the building was to give more back to the students,” said Reynolds.
If the old workout facility feels a bit like a dungeon, the new one should feel more akin to a hip workout room. Large glass panels on one side of the room will give students the ability to look inside from the spine. A dance studio will also be built in that area. However, the new workout area will be approximately 15 percent smaller than the current one.
Workout room user John Akers admitted he didn’t know much about the details of the renovation, but didn’t like the sound of losing space.
“Even if they fit the same amount of equipment in (the new room) … it seems like it would just be more packed,” he said.
And while the hockey team won’t be permitted to use this space, they shouldn’t need to.
The new hockey training facilities will be placed where the current student recreation center is downstairs. The members of the hockey program will be treated with a new locker room, player’s lounge and training room that will all be connected.
And while to some this may seem like an unnecessary indulgence for this institution to be taking, Athletics Director Keith Hackett couldn’t disagree more.
“I just have to be honest with the facilities that our previous (hockey) coaching staffs over the years had to recruit with. They were awful … probably the worst facilities in Div. I hockey,” said Hackett.
Seawolf Hockey head coach Matt Thomas sees the improvement in facilities as a step in the right direction.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to push the program forward. I want this place to be … a desirable place to play and young hockey players to come and develop and enjoy their experience,” said Thomas. “I think this renovation is going to help big time in that.”
Posters displaying the blueprint of the upgraded Wells Fargo Sports Complex will go up soon in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex spine and the Alaska Airlines Center.