Some very good news on Athletic Centre

Back on Sunday night when I included a bit of info about the fundraising campaign for a new athletic centre I didn’t have any idea that the U’s Board of Governors was about to vote on moving forward with the expansion and renovation of the Mitchell Athletics Centre into a state-of-the-art fitness and recreation complex. Today the Bd of Govs gave the thumbs up to the spending of $45.4 million on Phase 1.

Congratulations to Director of Athletics Tom Kendall for getting this done!!

Tom Kendall speaking at the FoGF 2nd Annual Coaches Gala, May 2012 Photo: Kyle Rodriguez/

Tom Kendall speaking at the FoGF 2nd Annual Coaches Gala, May 2012
Photo: Kyle Rodriguez/

In that previous post I wrote briefly about my experiences at a Gryphons men’s basketball game,

I sat beside a local b-ball fan who has been watching the Gryphons for 30 years. He lamented that it’s been a long time since the team has been able to compete at an elite level. He even commented that he wished the basketball program could turn things around the way the football program had. Improved recruiting would have to be a part of that. Clearly the W.F. Mitchell Centre is out of date and the new facility that AD Kendall envisions would go a long way to helping with that. The $20 million capital campaign is still on-going.

Not only will a state-of-the-art complex provide a new and improved venue for varsity sports like basketball, volleyball, swimming and wrestling, it will directly help those teams with their recruiting. Indirectly it also benefits the football program. The current athletic centre isn’t something you would want to highlight for recruits. But beyond varsity sports this is a very positive announcement for all students and the community as a whole.

From the University’s official announcement:

“This isn’t just about new facilities,” said President Alastair Summerlee. “It will position Guelph as a competitive leader in university athletics and community health and well-being.”

Tom Kendall, U of G director of athletics, added: “Our goal is to have one of the best outdoor and indoor athletics facilities in Canada to complement our leadership position in sports and recreation and to build a sense of community and connection.”

Guelph’s current indoor recreation facilities are aging, limited in size and over capacity, Kendall said. It’s hampering our ability to meet student demand as well as our competitiveness with peer institutions, as many have overhauled their athletic facilities.  “A renovation is long overdue.”

*     *     *

Obviously no one disputes that sport and fitness benefit the health and wellness of all those who participate. Many, many people underestimate the power of university sports teams to, as Tom Kendall says, build a sense of community and connection.

A big thank you in all of this also needs to go to the Guelph students who in a 2010 referendum voted to pay additional student fees that provide a large part of the revenue to fund this project.

BTW I also think that these new facilities will take some ammunition away from a few critics who are jealous of the renovated facilities that the football program [and the track & field program] enjoy. You can’t be as jealous when everyone on campus is going to have access to new athletic facilities.

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