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Palm Beach Post (Florida)
Palm Beach Atlantic University is putting the finishing touches on a $9 million sports building that features six locker rooms, a state-of-the-art weight room and hospitality and conference rooms.
The school's 14 outdoor teams including lacrosse, soccer and tennis have a new home that's only a few steps from their practice and game fields.
"They feel like collegiate athletes now," assistant women's soccer coach Rachel Shedd said.
The John and Sheila Rinker Sports Center, which has been under construction since October, is in the university's 76-acre athletic complex in West Palm Beach near I-95, south of Belvedere Road. The two-story building was paid for through donations by students' families, alumni, and supporters of the school, the largest of whom are the building's namesakes.
The school's colors, Sailfish blue, white and gray, accent each of the building's rooms.
One of the rooms, a large "team room" seating 40 people, provides a place for student athletes to study, meet and review game footage.
"Really we're just developing young people," said the school's athletic director, Carolyn Stone.
The athletic complex surrounding the building has 13 tennis courts, two softball fields, one baseball field and a soccer/ lacrosse field, Stone said. There are also three fields used for intramural sports, a sand volleyball court and an outdoor basketball court.
"We know that if you invest in athletics, it does pay off," Stone said. "It brands your university beyond the normal borders, especially if you're a regional, private university."
The school's undergraduate admissions are near their goal of 2,200, but the hope is that the boost in athletics will increase the number of admission applications, allowing the school to be more selective, she said.
"It really broadens the reach of (the) university," Stone said.
There are 290 student athletes this fall, some of whom are international students. Online streaming of athletic events has allowed those students' families and others to watch.
For the families who live nearby, the new building provides a convenient place to watch lacrosse and soccer from the balcony. The construction of the new building is the latest addition to the athletic campus, which was built three years ago as an extension to the original academic campus on Dixie Highway near Okeechobee Boulevard.
The Division II school has eight men's sports and nine women's sports.
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