The Virginia Tech football team will have a new place to practice — come rain or shine — in their brand new indoor practice facility to be located on their current practice turf.
This new facility, and several other changes were decided during the Board of Visitors meeting on Monday. Among these changes was Tech beginning to offer winter session classes and a new Marching Virginian practice facility, which was approved for initial planning.
Indoor Football Practice Facility
The new indoor football practice facility will be located on the eastern half of the existing practice space. It will be conveniently located close to the locker rooms and medical facilities, while only having minimal impact on the existing Stadium Woods, the 14-acre grove of old growth white oak trees on campus.
The location of the new facility had been a point of contention among community members in the past due to the proximity of the proposed location to the historic Stadium Woods.
Previous proposals for the project caused discontent among community members when they discovered almost three acres of the woods would be torn down for the facility. After thousands of calls and emails in favor of saving the woods, the university denied that particular proposal.
The decided-upon location comes as a compromise for the athletic department as well as community members who were concerned with the woods’ preservation. It was determined by an outside consultation group that the woods provide millions of dollars of value to the university.
Rebekah Paulson, director of Friends of Stadium Woods, said that though they’re pleased with the new location, they’re not calling it a victory just yet.
“As long as there is minimum impact on the woods and they follow through with what they say they’re going to do, then it will be a victory," Paulson said.
The practice facility has been in the works for years, according to Director of University Relations, Larry Hincker. “Several years ago, the board approved a capital project, which is essentially a line item on a budget with a dollar amount that says, ‘You can go build a 25 million dollar project.’
“What we never had, though, was a location to put it,” Hincker said.
That $25 million dollar budget will also include renovations to Rector Field House and the construction of an indoor hitting facility for the softball team.
The next step in the process, according to Hincker, is to finish raising funds and to start looking at designs for the project. “We don’t have all the money in hand, and we won’t move forward until there’s a certain critical mass.”
Groundbreaking dates may be far off in the future depending on how private fundraising goes. Construction on the Signature Engineering building didn’t begin until all funds were raised, however the Center for the Arts began construction before all money was in hand.
Winter Session classes
This January, students will have the option to knock out credit hours over winter break.
Monday, the Board of Visitors also approved a measure that will allow students the opportunity to take for-credit classes between the fall and spring semesters. The sessions will be open to undergraduate and graduate students who are already enrolled in the university and will be similar to summer session classes.
Classes will be available in a variety of formats, including online and residential.
“There’s a ton of demand for it,” Hincker said.
Proposed Marching Virginians Facility
Also proposed at the board meeting was a practice facility for the Marching Virginians. The current practice facility involves an exposed dirt field without changing rooms, restrooms or storage.
The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences worked with the Recreational Sports and Athletic department to come up with a shared use and funding plan for the project.
The joint finance and audit committee, along with the buildings and grounds committee, is requesting $4.75 million to build a new facility that will include restrooms, lockers, instrument storage and a drum line room for percussion instruments.
In addition, the project will include a 3,500 square-foot covered pavilion to provide shelter during inclement weather and a lit, soccer field sized area of artificial turf.
The board approved an initial $400,000 for planning.