Four construction projects totaling $71 million are underway at Bryant University. When finished, three will have a direct impact on intercollegiate athletics.
The skeleton of a strength and conditioning center stands at the entrance to Bulldog Stadium. Contractors have assured Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley that it will be finished by Aug. 1, just in time for the arrival of fall sports athletes.
Site work for a 78,000 cubic-foot structure that will house a turf field started last week in the woods near the baseball field and will be ready Jan. 1 for baseball, softball and lacrosse pre-season practice. “It’s like putting an aircraft carrier on your campus,” Machtley, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, said of the building’s size.
Construction on a new athletic training facility connected to the Chace Wellness Center started on Monday with a completion date of July 1, 2016. Bryant athletic trainers care for 500 athletes.
All students will benefit from the $35-million Academic Innovation Center, a 21st-century classroom building that has excited the Bryant faculty and educators from other schools who are interested in its design and technological features. That building will be located in the current parking lot across from the George Bello Center and the Chace Wellness Center. A ceremonial groundbreaking occurred on that spot Friday afternoon, and construction started on Monday, two days after Commencement. The projected finish is August, 2016.
The four projects will add 250,000 square feet of space to Bryant’s campus in the next 15 months, about the same amount of space added during Machtley’s first 19 years as president.
As if that’s not enough, Bryant is replacing the surface on its outdoor turf field, starting Thursday and finishing Aug. 28.
“This could be one of the most historic days in Bryant history,” Machtley said before directing the school’s trustees, coaches and construction supervisors in three waves of ceremonial shoveling.
“The sky’s the limit,” gushed the board chairman Bill Conaty.
Bill Smith, the director of athletics, spoke for his entire department when he said, “After this past winter, words cannot express the gratitude of our coaches and student-athletes.” The harsh weather made lacrosse and baseball “more a matter of survival.”
Smith added that the strength and conditioning center and the indoor practice facility “will be classrooms for our coaches to teach.”
The new facilities will also help Bryant coaches to recruit better athletes, who, in turn, should help the Bulldogs challenge for Northeast Conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances.
Bryant has raised about $48 million of its current $75 million capital campaign goal.