UMBC’s new event center construction should be underway this coming winter. As a relatively new university that is undergoing serious changes, construction is constantly happening on campus. This is something that many students: it usually causes traffic for commuters, loud noises and confusing walkway detours. Although the construction projects could be a nuisance at times, the end products are often beneficial.
The new 162,000 square foot facility will cost $85 million and is expected to take 18-24 months to build. The project completion is anticipated to be Fall 2017. With a total of 5,000 seats, 1,000 more than the RAC, the new event center will create a better experience for campus visitors, and is missing some of the detractors so common to UMBC construction projects.
This project, thankfully, will not obstruct any traffic flow. It will be constructed in harmony with the environment around it. The new event center will be situated between the stadium parking lot and the soccer stadium. It will be accessible from Hilltop Circle, and with it so far from the heart of the campus, it is unlikely that students will be inconvenienced by it.
Over the summer, athletes are forced to hold their practices either very early in the morning or late in the evening because the Retriever Activity Center is occupied. The RAC is booked with camps and events all summer. “It’s in use from the time the sun goes up to the time the sun goes down,” UMBC athletics director Tim Hall told the Baltimore Sun.
The event center will allow athletes to practice without being affected by summer events held at UMBC. The athletes will gain access to upgraded locker rooms and training facilities. The athletic venue could serve as one of best mid-major level, NCAA Division I facilities in the nation. It will also serve to facilitate the acquisition of quality student-athletes which will potentially allow UMBC to become top contenders in many sports in the America East conference.
The RAC was opened in 1973, and will soon be insufficient to support UMBC’s growing needs by itself. “It will change the campus completely. We’re on our way. They know that we are doing very well academically and we want to do better and better athletically,” said UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski at a conference. In order to excel in athletics, construction seems essential.
The functions of this multi-purpose facility are not limited to athletic events. In addition to hosting basketball and volleyball games, the venue could support art events, speakers, convocations, concerts, campus events and most importantly, graduation ceremonies. With the concessions, catering, hospitality, restrooms, security and guest services that it will offer, the building will certainly do the community good. There is no doubt that the new event center will be $85 million well spent.