Groundbreaking for the Alksnis Athletic and Recreation Building drew a significant crowd, including many of the college's athletes. Courtesy Aquinas College
A shovel was put in the ground at Aquinas College last week, signaling the beginning of Phase II of its new athletic complex, Alksnis Athletic and Recreation Building.
On Sept. 25, the official groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new 70,000-square-foot building at 1580 E. Fulton St. The new facility, named for Aquinas Athletic Hall of Famer and Trustee Emeritus Greg Alksnis and his wife, Sally, will feature an NCAA-certified track, a 200-meter track, courts for volleyball, basketball, cheerleading and dance, practice areas for softball, baseball, soccer, golf, lacrosse and intramural sports, and a curtain system that will allow for multiple simultaneous uses.
The building will complete the $14 million athletic complex that began with the development of the Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center, which opened in November 2010.
Construction is now under way on the Alksnis buildingand funding is almost complete, the vast majority of which came from donors, said Greg Meyer, Aquinas’ vice-presidentfor institutional advancement.
“We’ve got a little bit to go with the fundraising, but it’s not much, about 1 percent,” he said. “Now we’re funding for incidentals. It’s probably less than $100,000 we still need to raise.”
Meyer added, “Our student recruitment is greatly enhanced by a facility incoming students were probably used to at their high school. For us it’s new and great and very functional.”
The project also includes creating a new entrance and parking lot for the college, Meyer said. The goal is to have everything finished before the academic year begins in fall 2014.
“Aquinas College is grateful to Greg and Sally Alksnis for their unwavering support and commitment to the college and its students,” said Juan R. Olivarez, president of Aquinas. “Their generous lead gift of $1.5 million to this building will benefit the athletes, the total student body, and the Aquinas and broader community today and into the future.”
Alksnis, co-owner of Magic Steel Corp., said he is thankful to Aquinas because it gave him the opportunity to develop in body, mind and spirit. He believes college athletics are vital to the college experience and development of a person, he said.
“It has been my desire to support Aquinas in its commitment to promote a healthy competitive spirit in its students along with the value of maintaining a healthy body throughout their lives,” he said. “I owe much gratitude to my parents who instilled in me a strong work ethic, which was nurtured further during my years as an Aquinas student and athlete. I am proud that in recognition of my parents, the new facility will bear the Alksnis name.”