Penn State Altoona breaks ground for Adler expansion project

January 21, 2016

ALTOONA, Pa. — Penn State Altoona held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 21, for the Adler Athletic Complex renovation and expansion project.

Chancellor and Dean Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry addressed the crowd, which included members of the campus community and local dignitaries. Brent Baird, director of athletics, and Austin Fink, Student Government Association president, also shared a few words, along with Peter Hopsicker, head of the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences.

The Penn State Board of Trustees, in its meeting Nov. 20, 2015, approved final plans and authorized the University to expend funds in the amount of $24.5 million to accomplish this project.

"This project will have an extraordinary and permanent impact on Penn State Altoona and our community by promoting educational and cultural outreach, and enhancing the quality of our academic and athletic programming," said Bechtel-Wherry. "Our students deserve to have top-notch facilities, and this project will provide much needed recreation, exercise and hangout space for them."

The Steven A. Adler Athletic Complex was constructed in 1972 and consisted of a gymnasium and locker rooms, with additional locker rooms, racquetball courts, a swimming pool, and a multipurpose room added in 1978. At that time, Penn State Altoona's enrollment was approximately 2,000 students, with about 300 housed on campus in two residence halls. Today, enrollment has doubled to approximately 4,000 students, with more 900 living on campus in four residence halls. In addition, there are more than 1,000 students residing in off-campus housing that is in close proximity to campus. Without any significant renovations since the 1970s, the Adler Athletic Complex now is insufficient to meet the needs of all of the desired student, campus, and community activities that take place in this space.

The primary uses of a renovated and expanded Adler Athletic Complex will be to support Penn State Altoona’s NCAA Division III athletic programs; intramurals and recreation programs; kinesiology classes; ROTC; fitness area; weight training area; additional team locker rooms; coaches and officials locker rooms; trainer’s area; coaches offices; athletics administrative suite; faculty offices; the Distinguished Speaker Series; major student events (i.e. concerts); and community events.

The focus of the expansion will be the addition of a new gymnasium area with sufficient space for intercollegiate sports and bleacher seating for 2,200 people. Floor seating will allow for a maximum of 2,500 people. Another building addition will house a new fitness and weight training area, as well as a new expanded lobby for better circulation and a new office suite for athletics administration and faculty. Finally, a third addition will house faculty offices, classrooms, and laboratory space for a new kinesiology degree program.

“The addition of the varsity locker rooms and other team space will allow our college to support the teams at a higher level, including hosting tournaments and recruiting highly-skilled athletes,” said Brent Baird, director of athletics. “The additional training room will allow for a higher quality of services for student-athlete care, including rehab activities, and injury evaluation.”

The renovation project will allow Penn State Altoona to offer the highly sought-after kinesiology major. The kinesiology wing will include four classrooms, four research laboratories, and seven offices designated for the offering of two kinesiology majors: movement science and exercise science. Given the anticipated construction schedule, Penn State Altoona could start accepting kinesiology majors as early as fall 2017.

“I am particularly proud of our student leaders who have been banking a portion of their student facilities fee for the past several years to ensure that this project will happen," said Bechtel-Wherry. "Many of the students who have supported this project have graduated or will graduate in the next two years and will not be here to enjoy the benefits of the addition and renovation; however, they believed in the importance of paying it forward so that future students would benefit. I think that their support and investment is truly remarkable and a testament to their character. I thank them for their foresight and selflessness."

Construction is scheduled to be completed in December 2017. Funding sources include the Department of General Services, student facilities fee, Facilities Resources Committee, University Access Committee, President’s Facility Initiative, and other campus funds. Plans for the project were designed by Weber Murphy Fox of Erie, Pennsylvania.


Last Updated January 25, 2016