A Walmart-sized athletics dome may soon be popping up on the Villanova University campus in Radnor Township, Pa.
Construction of the inflatable dome on the university's West Campus had been blocked by a zoning board amid complaints by nearby residents that their views and property values would be adversely impacted. However, the Common Pleas Court overturned that ruling, thus permitting Villanova to pursue such a facility.
The university hopes a temporary dome, which will be used as indoor practice space from November through April, will help Villanova's teams stay competitive with schools that have indoor practice facilities. Currently, Wildcat student-athletes have to head off-campus to use facilities secured by the athletic department during inclement weather, a scenario that often leads to shorter, compromised practice sessions.
Citizens of Radnor Township, some living as close as 560 feet to the proposed dome site, have cited concerns that the construction of the new, 65-foot-high facility would not only block their views but also lower the property value of the houses overlooking the fields. According to The Villanovan student newspaper, Chris Kovolski, the university's assistant vice president of government relations and external affairs, acknowledged the concerns of homeowners and highlighted some actions being taken to mitigate them. The university has planted additional trees to obscure the planned dome's presence in relation to nearby homes. Additionally, the amount of light emitted from the opaque facility will be limited to essential lighting, such as emergency lights.
Though Radnor Township is appealing the court ruling, Villanova senior associate athletic director and chief athletics operating officer Josh Heird is confident that dome construction will be able to proceed. "This is a game changer," he said, "an absolute game changer."