Sacred Heart University is investing $21.8 million in construction of the Bobby Valentine Athletic Center, a state-of-the-art fitness facility for the whole student population. It will be named after the University’s executive director of athletics and Major League Baseball great, Bobby Valentine.
Designed by the renowned architectural firm, The S/L/A/M Collaborative, the 57,400-square foot, three-story center will be one of the most advanced athletic facilities in the nation, complete with an indoor track, a bowling center, an 18-bike spin center, a 45-foot climbing wall and exercise and weight-training rooms. The anticipated opening is August 2019.
“The center shows the University’s strong commitment to the well-being of all its students, as well as its 32 NCAA Division I teams, who will now have sole use of the William H. Pitt Center,” Valentine said. “I’m so excited to give our teams the training space they need to excel, while encouraging a healthy lifestyle and fun social opportunities for everyone on campus.”
The new facility is being built behind the north end zone of Campus Field. It will allow SHU to reconfigure the current exercise and weight-training areas in the Pitt Center to better serve varsity sports and the University’s 855 student-athletes. Currently, the 21-year-old Pitt Center doubles as training space for student-athletes and recreational facilities for the entire student population.
The new complex will include a two-story, 7,000-square-foot fitness center for cardiovascular workouts, free and cable weights, circuit training and CrossFit opportunities. A 5,000-square-foot bowling center will feature LED widescreen monitors, and students will be able to relax and recharge over protein smoothies at the third-floor juice bar.
William Reidy, vice president for University Advancement, said the new facility’s name is appropriate, as Valentine—a Connecticut native and former baseball player and manager—has been instrumental in taking this from an idea on a page to a reality.
“This was a project that Bobby had a vision for,” Reidy said. “Bobby Valentine made a huge commitment to the entire student body. And so much of the fundraising was Bobby bringing us to meet with people in his orbit.”
Reidy said Valentine is known for his tireless commitment to others, and many of the donors who have funded the new facility did so because it provided a tangible way to support his efforts.
The project is in line with Sacred Heart’s overall mission to promote the best college experience for each of its students, helping them build healthy habits for a lifetime, Reidy said. More and more prospective students are looking for both academic excellence and exemplary residential, dining and fitness facilities when they tour college campuses, he said.
The new center will not be “just a place to work out,” he added. “It can also be a social hub for students. This building is another reflection of our continuing commitment to provide students with ways to get involved.”
Based in Glastonbury, S/L/A/M also designed SHU’s Center for Healthcare Education, which opened in August 2017, and is working on the University of Notre Dame’s much-anticipated Campus Crossroads project.
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