After nearly five years of planning and delay, Dartmouth is finally breaking ground on the school’s new indoor athletics facility.

According to The Dartmouth, contractors on Monday began laying down hardpack to allow for the movement of heavy vehicles that will assist in construction of the 70,000-square-foot facility. 

After a feasibility study was done back in 2012, the initial permit for the building was denied by the Hanover planning board in 2016. The project was approved after being sent to the New Hampshire Supreme Court in November 2018. 

Dartmouth was desperate for more indoor practice space, as demand on Leverone Field House — the only indoor practice space on campus — had peaked.

The new facility is slated for completion in March 2020.

"We're trying to push as hard as we can on the schedule," said John Scherding, the college's vice president of planning, design and construction. "We would love to have the facility usable for as much of the winter term next year as possible." 

The facility’s primary feature will be a 56,000-square-foot turf field, which is nearly three times the size of the field in the existing Leverone Field House. The building will also include two batting tunnels, video filming platforms and a sports medicine area.

The Town of Hanover initially saw objections to the project primarily from townspeople whose residences would abut the new building.

"The people we heard from were largely from the immediate vicinity," said Hanover town manager Julia Griffin. "It is a big industrial building, larger than your average college building constructed abutting a neighborhood. There was a general concern about the impact of the large building on the way their neighborhood feels or looks." 

Concerns from townspeople resulted in several changes to the facility, including a reduction in the number of windows, lowering the building’s overall height, agreeing to guidelines about building usage times and noise level, and limiting movement of construction vehicles to Thompson Lot. 

The new facility is funded largely by alumni gifts.  

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.