Monday, 01 April 2013 13:24

`Transformative` Romney Field House project boosts athletes` readiness

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Unveiling a gem – Thanks to a $2 million set of revitalizing upgrades, Golden Romney Field House at SUNY Oswego has reopened as the weather-protected home of practices for men's and women's sports teams in track and field, lacrosse, baseball, softball, tennis, golf, field hockey and soccer, as well as men's and women's indoor track and field. Unveiling a gem – Thanks to a $2 million set of revitalizing upgrades, Golden Romney Field House at SUNY Oswego has reopened as the weather-protected home of practices for men's and women's sports teams in track and field, lacrosse, baseball, softball, tennis, golf, field hockey and soccer, as well as men's and women's indoor track and field.

     SUNY Oswego's Golden Romney Field House has reopened to limited spring practices as work wraps up on a $2 million project to breathe new athletic life into the college's former ice hockey home.

     "It's a transformation," said Nicholas Lyons, vice president for administration and finance. "It came out very, very well."

     Cora Brumley, interim athletic director, said the impact of the Romney revitalization on Oswego's ability to recruit Division III student-athletes for outdoor sports is "huge."

     "Student-athletes are no different from the general population," she said. "It's all about curb appeal and feeling good about where you are spending your time."

     Contractors continue to work on a few remaining tasks on the interior of the Quonset-style icon on south campus. Renovation of the former ice hockey locker rooms on the building's west side is still to come.

     Yet men's and women's spring sports teams – from lacrosse to track and field, baseball to softball – work out on the state-of-the-art, dual-surface flooring, illuminated by new energy-efficient lighting.

     "This is really going to make a difference on the ability of our student-athletes to prepare for their sports seasons," Brumley said. "This is going to be transformative for our outdoor sports excellence."

Massive upgrades

     Less than a year ago, the field house – though rock-solid in construction, according to contractors – showed its age. It opened here in 1963 as the first ice rink in the SUNY system, serving as the college's ice hockey home for more than 40 years until the 2006-07 season when the Lakers moved to the new Campus Center arena.

     Now, Brumley points with pride to the Rekortan M99 synthetic track surface: four lanes of new 200-meter track over an elastic layer, plus outer-corner installations for the long-jump pit, the pole vault and more.

     She also made note of the smooth transition from the track to the FieldTurf infield, a surface designed for safety and endurance. The infield is marked off for four tennis courts and, with the addition of temporary lines, can be available for field events and lacrosse and soccer practices.

     From the ceiling – below the massive ducts for the all-new heating and ventilation system – hangs netting that can screen track athletes from the field-sports action. The netting can bisect the infield so that side-by-side practices can take place.

     Then there's the ceiling-mounted, electrically lowered baseball "cage," a netted, tunnel-like structure, subdivided to accommodate batting practice and pitcher-catcher workouts at the same time.

     "It's an amazing building," Brumley said. "It's really designed to be a state-of-the-art, multipurpose practice facility."

     Providing a top-notch practice facility for many different sports has been the central goal for the project, Lyons said, in part because the track and the turf field are not regulation size and the field house is no longer intended for NCAA competition.

Lyons said he understands that campus citizens and area organizations will want to use Romney.

     "We do anticipate desired use by the greater Oswego community and will work to accommodate those requests once our normal usage patterns are identified," he said.

     Bob Lloyd of the college's Facilities Design and Construction is the Romney renovation project coordinator with general contractor Diamond & Thiel Construction Inc., working from the Clough Harbor Associates design. The campus has, for the money, unveiled a gem, he said.

     "I think we got a lot of bang for our buck," Lloyd said. "The place was really transformed into a nice, usable facility."

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