By Jordan Kunkel
Loyola has announced plans to construct a new athletic practice center in late 2017, sparking controversy among students and Rogers Park residents.
Plans include construction of an $18.5 million facility for Loyola’s Volleyball and Basketball teams in between Mertz Hall and the outdoor track and field along Loyola Avenue. Al Norville, the donor behind Loyola’s Norville Athletic Center, donated most of the funds in the name of his late wife, Alfie Norville.
An expected $1-2mil will be covered by university capital, according to the university newspaper, the Loyola Phoenix.
The announcement, which was publicized earlier this month by the Phoenix caused both support and backlash from students on social media.
Plans for the Alfie Norville Practice Facility began in response to the Volleyball and Basketball teams’ consistent use of the Halas Recreational Center for practice.
Supporters of the new athletic center believe that advancing sports on campus will boost university moral and add to a “well-rounded educational experience,” as quoted by President Rooney in the Phoenix weekly podcast. The project also has the support of Alderman Joe Moore for the 49th ward.
Residents of Rogers Park expressed concerns of traffic issues and shadowing of neighboring housing at a community meeting with Alderman Joe Moore back in December. Studies and compromises by Loyola administration since then minimized these fears.
Building this facility also means shortening Loyola’s track and field, which already did not meet the regulation standard size, according to Henry Reddening, the Phoenix sports editor.
With tuition expected to rise for another consecutive year, many students have expressed concerns about where the university places efforts to improve campus and academic life.
The Loyola Democratic Socialists and Students for Reproductive Justice protested the new facility on February 24, and on social media advocated for the university to “invest tuition funds into adjuncts and education, not admins and athletics!”
During the protest, a public incident between campus police and Loyola student Alan Campbell [link to Justin or Diamond’s blog post] led to more doubt over Loyola administration’s ability to give equal support to the student body.