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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)


BLACKSBURG — A pair of major athletic facility projects could move forward this weekend when the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meets at Hotel Roanoke.

The university's governing authority will vote on whether to take the next step on the Student-Athlete Performance Center and Merryman Center projects.

On Thursday, athletic director Whit Babcock confirmed to The Roanoke Times the university received verbal pledges for the $5 million project to renovate and expand the Merryman Center, the football strength and conditioning building that was built in 1998.

The commitments will allow the board to vote on a resolution this weekend moving the project into the planning phase. If the measure is approved, $700,000 will be allocated to complete "working drawings" of the project.

"The envisioned renovation and expansion will provide state-of-the-art spaces for weight training, nutrition, team meeting space, circulation, and an updated graphics package," the session materials for the board meeting state.

The plan is to expand the second floor of the facility by 4,880 gross square feet. The renovations will mainly take place on the first floor.

"The facility has received few improvements since its original construction, and requires an update to meet the Athletic department's expectations with the highly competitive environment for NCAA Division I college football," the resolution says.

The board will also vote on whether to approve the initial design work of the $16.6 million Student-Athlete Performance Center, which will replace the Jamerson Athletic Center's Bowman Room, which has existed since 1982.

Hanbury is the architect handling the design of the project. The university's tentative plan is to pick a contractor for the project in early 2019 with a goal of completing it by fall 2020.

The university received a $15.2 million donation for the project in Dec. 2017.

"This project includes a complete renovation and expansion of the fourth floor of the Jamerson Center, construction of a balcony cantilevered from the fourth floor, and a new elevator tower," the board material states. "The project will provide approximately 17,000 square feet for dining, nutrition, recruiting, donor hospitality, and allow for a seamless transition to the Cassell Coliseum concourse."

Babcock envisions the performance center having a "huge positive impact" on student-athletes.

While the athletic director wants to be proactive in developing facility plans, don't expect any football-focused projects in the short-term given that coach Justin Fuente is pleased with the administration's overall vision.

"We see it from the same lens," Babcock said Thursday. "We got some things rolling right about the time he got here. I don't feel like we are playing catch-up in any way."

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August 25, 2018


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