HAYS, Kan. -- Perhaps the mascot
of Fort Hays State University should be changed from a tiger to a crane.
No, not crane as in a bird. Crane
as in a machine.
A groundbreaking ceremony today between
Lewis Field Stadium and Big Creek on the FHSU campus officially launched construction
of a nearly $4.2 million indoor athletic training facility. The training
facility is the latest in a series of four major construction projects that
total an investment of about $30 million by the university. Cranes and other
heavy construction machinery have become a common sight on the FHSU campus.
"We announced plans for this
project two years ago, thanks to major gifts from the families of Bob and Pat
Schmidt and Don and Chris Bickle," Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president,
said during today's ceremony. The Schmidts and Bickles each donated $1 million
toward construction of what will be called the Schmidt/Bickle Indoor Training
Facility. "Those two gifts, combined with the generosity of many other
donors, made today possible," he said.
The training facility will be
located at the southeast corner of the FHSU campus near the football stadium. The
50,400-square-foot facility will be equipped with weights, cardio equipment, a
four-lane synthetic track, an artificial-cover surface that will extend 65
yards, and meeting and entertainment rooms.
"The facility we are
announcing today will be nicer than what we had envisioned two years ago,"
the president said. "We have hired Compton Construction Corp. of Wichita
as the general contractor. Compton had the low bid of $3,628,000, which was well
below the original estimate of $4 million. Therefore, we were able to accept
two alternates to the base bid, which will allow us to add stone veneer to the
north and east sides of the building and add a folding partition inside that
will allow meeting space to be divided into separate rooms. Even with those
added costs, the total of $3,753,600 comes in comfortably below what we thought
we would have to spend."
Equipment, especially for weight
training, and furnishings bring the estimated total cost of the new facility to
nearly $4.2 million.Bob Schmidt expressed his
gratitude for the opportunities afforded to him and his wife, Pat, through their
education at the university. "Athletics are important to what the
university is all about," Schmidt said. "President Hammond and Athletic
Director Curtis Hammeke provided the vision, and it wouldn't have happened
without Curtis's positive leadership."
"I'm excited," Bickle said, adding that he had
recently heard Baseball Coach Steve Johnson remark that the new facility would
be one of the greatest enhancements he could use to bring outstanding players
to western Kansas." This will be a tremendous benefit not just to football
and baseball, but to track and all the other outdoor sports at FHSU,"
Bickle said, "and it will be good for the economy of
Hammeke raised the
need for the indoor training facility because Gross Memorial Coliseum and
Cunningham Hall were being overused. "We explored different ways that
athletics could defer some of the demand on those facilities," Hammeke said,
"so Tim and I approached the coaches and the Difference Makers, the
premier athletic booster club at FHSU." Tim Chapman is president and CEO
of the FHSU Foundation.
"Tim and I let
them know the benefits of having that type of facility and what the ultimate
outcome would be of having the facility here, not only for football, but also
for track, baseball, softball, soccer -- any outdoor sport where conditions in western
Kansas make it tough to be outside at times," Hammeke explained.
He expects the training facility to broaden training and
recruiting possibilities for the more than 400 student athletes at FHSU.
"Athletics is a window to
the FHSU campus. The need to enhance and incorporate state-of-the-art
facilities is vital to the success of current programs and to recruiting the
most talented athletes in the region," President Hammond agreed.
"Once again the
Bickle and Schmidt families, along with other donors, have stepped up to help
Fort Hays State University achieve a level of quality that would not be
possible without their help," the president continued. "We believe
very strongly in forging partnerships with businesses, organizations and
The indoor training facility and three other capital projects
represent a total university investment of about $30 million. The president
said the estimated economic impact of about $45 million would provide a big
boost to the local economy.
In addition to the training facility,
FHSU recently completed an extension of Dwight Drive from the Wooster Place housing
complex to Gustad Drive, is nearing completion of the first phase of the Tiger
Place residential facility on the site of the former Agnew Hall, with the
second phase to begin soon, and will also soon begin construction of a new
academic building, called the Center for Networked Learning, which will house
the Virtual College and some other departments and offices.