SVSU Board Approves Major Renovations and Upgrades to Ryder Center

SVSU Board Approves Major Renovations and Upgrades to Ryder Center

Release courtesy of Matt Woodbury, SVSU Sports Information Director

UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. - The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved moving forward with plans to renovate and upgrade the 24-year-old Ryder Center, which serves as SVSU’s primary indoor athletic facility. The board took the action during their regular meeting Monday, Feb. 11.

The $20 million project will consist of two phases. In May, construction will begin on a new field house that will include a 300-meter indoor track to replace the indoor and outdoor tracks SVSU currently uses. Attached to the north side of the current Ryder Center, the addition is scheduled to be completed in April 2014. The infield of the track will have a synthetic turf surface suitable for baseball, softball, football and soccer practice purposes.

"From an intercollegiate athletics perspective this facility will continue to help us attract top level student-athletes in all sports and continue to elevate our athletic programs to the highest level," stated SVSU Director of Athletics Mike Watson.

In May 2014, phase II will begin on an extensive renovation of the current building, which opened in 1989 and includes academic classrooms and labs in addition to athletic facilities. Notable improvements include reducing the seating capacity in O’Neill Arena for basketball to 2,400 seats from the current 3,500 to create a more intimate environment for fans. Potential seating for other events, such as Commencement, will increase from 4,000 seats to around 4,700 seats. This construction phase is expected to be completed by November 2014.

The Ryder Center has many uses beyond intercollegiate athletics. SVSU has 17 student-led club sports programs serving 310 students this year, as well as 33 separate intramural leagues. During the 2011-12 academic year, SVSU recorded nearly 5,600 SVSU student participants in fitness, recreation, and/or intramural and club sports programs (students participating in more than one structured activity would be counted multiple times).  

"The addition of this facility will greatly enhance the University experience for all SVSU students, faculty and staff as well as our region," added Watson.

Beyond SVSU purposes, the Ryder Center also hosts a number of community events, as well as high school athletic contests each year, including a number of swim meets since the 2012 renovation of the Gerstacker Regional Aquatics Center, funded in part by a grant from the Midland-based Gerstacker Foundation.

The Board authorized borrowing up to $13 million to finance the project. SVSU will supply the remaining funds from existing capital reserves.

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