Plymouth — In what has been a vision for nearly a decade, Plymouth State University celebrated the groundbreaking of the massive ALLWell North Facility on Tuesday, which is scheduled to be finished by fall of 2015.
“I am more excited than I can tell you,” said President Sara Jayne Steen prior to a groundbreaking ceremony taking place in the PSU Ice Arena. “This is going to fall forward our initiatives. Teaching, preparation of healthcare professionals for the workforce, health and wellness for the community, recreation and athletics — it is a beautiful, integrated facility.”
Steen explained that the planning stages for this stemmed from about eight years ago, but final plans were approved last fall to start the construction. Construction on the project began immediately after the 2014 commencement and has continued throughout the summer. She explained that it is a long process and seeing it come to fruition is exciting.
The new $32 million building, amounting to 107,600 square feet, will be directly across the street from the PSU Ice Arena, which opened in 2010. The ice arena was phase one of the project, and the AllWell North building is the second phase. This will be the largest building in PSU’s existence.
The building will include a large-scale, multi-use space that will support PSU’s Department of Health and Human Performance school, which is the second largest on campus. Chair Linda Levy explained that currently they are spread across the school, and this will be ideal as it will bring everything together in one location. It will help with academic, research and outreach activities, as well as provide students with modern athletic and recreational facilities, indoor tennis courts and the only 200-meter indoor tracks in the state aside from Dartmouth. Underneath the building there will be the capacity for 140 parking spaces.
ALLWell North is designed to prepare future leaders in the adventure education field, which is vital due to the importance in the state’s tourism based economy. The new space will attract new research funding, supporting student research and provide internships. It also supports health and wellness research and community outreach through the Center for Active Living and Healthy Communities.
It is estimated that 75 percent of PSU undergraduate students will use the facility as a classroom, varsity competition or training space, intramural location and more.
It is also expected to have a positive economic impact, with an estimated $4 million annual impact through job creation and visitor spending.
Director of Athletics John Clark explained that ALLWell North’s indoor track is a full 200-meter indoor track that will be “one of the finest in New England.” He said that it is about 63,000 square feet, which is compared to the current track amounting to 28,000 square feet.
“Specifically for athletics, this is the track,” said Clark. “We will also be gaining a really nice upgraded indoor practice facility. We anticipate holding NHIAA meets. It will be one of the finest facilities in New England and it’s designed for that. It will have concession stands, athletic training rooms and classrooms. It will be a pretty amazing facility.”
Clark said that last year PSU added cross country for men and women, and overall there will be six new sports that will call ALLWell North their home. This includes indoor track as well as outdoor track and field for both genders.
Major Gifts Officer John Scheinman said that it is great for the region because it is not just for students, it will be for the whole community. He said that it will provide a location for people to jog and play tennis, noting that it is for pediatric and geriatric physical fitness.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Scheinman. “The university, the state and the region really need this facility. What it will do, with the addition of men and women’s track in the winter and spring, it will attract New Hampshire students and research shows that indoor track is the fastest growing sport in the state of New Hampshire.”
Vice President for Finance and Administration Steve Taksar explained that about half of the $32 million for the project is coming through a mechanism internally in the University System of New Hampshire. He explained that it will also be funded with $8 million in bonds through the New Hampshire Health and Education Facilities Authority and the last $8 million will come through a variety of sources including campus funds and fundraising.
“At the end of the day, the campus is funding about 96 percent of the facility,” said Taksar. “The campus is paying for most is the bottom line.”
There have been some major donors for the project, including Performance Sports CEO Kevin Davis, according to Scheinman. He said that since 2009 he has been in contact with Davis, and he was in conversation to honor the track in honor of legendary track coach George Davis. With the combination of the generous donation, and the fact that his father is a Track and Field Hall of Famer in Plymouth, UMass-Lowell, Pinkerton Academy and the Greater Lowell Road Runners.
“When it comes to track, George is the real deal,” said Scheinman.
Davis said that he was both surprised and proud to have the future track in his name. He said that he plans on using the facility and helping out in any way possible.
“It’s something I’ve always dreamed about, but having a facility in my name — the thought never really even entered my mind — so it’s not even a dream come true, it’s exciting,” said Davis. “I’m like, ‘wow!’ I’ve always walked in the facility and seen a name and I say, ‘who is that?’ Now I’m that person, and it’s a little scary.”