GFU indoor tennis center taking shape
Although George Fox University was unable to complete construction of its indoor tennis center in time for the Bruins to use it this season, progress on the project has been continual and is expected to wrap up this summer.
The building, located on Crestview Drive adjacent to the Austin Sports Complex, has begun to take shape, quite literally, in the past few weeks with the erection of the dome-shaped, tubular-steel trusses that will serve as walls when they are covered with specialized PVC fabric.
"It's hard to get any construction work done as planned these days, but we're making progress," George Fox project manager Dan Schutter said. "It's coming along."
The school purchased the structure from Iowa-based ClearSpan Fabric Structures for approximately $500,000 and initially estimated a final cost of approximately $1.2 million.
While ClearSpan has in turn contracted with Boise, Idaho-based Western Specialty Structures to do the installation, initial work to prep the site began in September. That included work to install the foundation and pave the 140 by 320-foot base of the structure.
"Once the building is completed, we'll do more paving," Schutter said. "That's because while we're building the structure, we don't want to damage that surface, which has to be very precise, and driving heavy equipment around on it doesn't help that."
Once the final paving is done, it will be coated with an acrylic polymer surface commonly used in tennis facilities. Schutter projected final paving could be done by mid-April and the final surface completed by the end of May.
Schutter expects the main structure will be completed in the next two weeks, after which LED lighting and ceiling fans will be installed, as well as large doors on either end for ventilation on hot days.
The translucent nature of the PVC fabric means the courts will not require lighting during the daytime, which will play a role in energy efficiency.
The building also will not be heated, as the fabric cover will allow it to maintain a temperature up to 20 degrees warmer than outside in winter and 20 degrees cooler than outside in summer.
In addition to the six tennis courts, the facility will also include a five-lane 100-meter sprint track to accommodate the track and field teams in the winter and spring. It will also include a long jump/triple jump pit and a pole vault box.
"One of the objectives was to reduce gym usage in Wheeler Sports Center," athletic director Adam Puckett said. "Our nationally ranked track and field team was an ideal candidate to move out of Wheeler and into the new facility. Once the building is erected we will reassess the interior and see what else we can do to maximize student-athlete use and experience."
Puckett added that policies for how the facility will otherwise be used will be developed around the time that it opens, but with the construction of new student recreation center, the primary users of the space will be student-athletes. Once the facility gets a handle on regular operations, Puckett said the university will look into ways it might accommodate others in the community.