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Another Uber-Pricey Building

Just when I could not believe that the College could spend more money on a building than on the new Moosilauke Lodge, in came news reports of the soon-to-be-built 65,000ft² indoor athletic practice facility — a $25 million project:

Indoor Practice Facility.jpg

The total cost of the structure is composed of soft and hard construction costs in the amount of $20.5M and an endowment of $4.5M to fund upkeep and maintenance. Athletics Director Harry Sheehy described the facility as follows: “It’s a functional building, a big box of air. We need space and (playing) surface, and this will give us that.” The space will be built in the “sunken field” practice space next to Boss Tennis Center:

Sunken Field.jpg

Now don’t get me wrong: an indoor practice field will be a great addition to athletics on campus. Fifty-year-old Leverone is maxed out and has long needed an upgrade, just like Floren was the logical addition on campus to the aging Varsity Fieldhouse. But once again, I have experience in constructing a comparable building, and for the College to spend $20.5 million on “a big box of air” is incomprehensible. In 2005-2006 I built a 28,000 ft² tennis center in Lebanon:

RVC Tennis.jpg

Our structure is a bare-bones facility, and it does not have a fancy entrance or locker rooms, but it is super-insulated and it has a state-of-the-art air-handling unit — and it only cost about $1.2 million. Let’s adjust for inflation, and take into account that the College’s new structure will have a playing surface of about 56,000 ft²; how can the playing portion of the building possibly cost more than $4.0 million?

The facility’s remaining 9,000 ft² is composed of a glassy entrance area, and I assume locker rooms, training space, offices and a viewing area. That part of the building will cost over $16.0 million? No way.

Let’s also look at the Alexis Boss Tennis Center, which opened in September 2000. Its six tennis courts occupy approximately 44,000 ft², about 20% less than the practice area in the new facility. And, in addition, it has locker rooms for tennis and field sports, trainers rooms, a lacrosse area, stands for viewing, a large entrance lobby and offices:

Boss Tennis Center.jpg

We can assume that it is close to the same size as the entire proposed indoor practice facility. The total budget for Boss — a steel-framed Butler building just like the new practice facilty — was only $7.5 million: the College floated a $5.0 construction loan for the building, and I assume that most of the remaining funds for the building went to an operating endowment.

As we noted with regard to Moosilauke, inflation between 2000 and today was 37.83%, yet once again, in comparing the new indoor practice facility to Boss, we can see that even after adjusting for inflation the new project will cost about three times what a similar building cost the College to build fifteen years ago.

This, too, makes no sense to me.

Addendum: I am grateful to the College’s Chief Facilities Officer Lisa Hogarty for taking the time to verify for me the construction details of the new building.

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