The McNeal Pavilion gymnasium at Southern Oregon University is scheduled to begin remodeling shortly. Demolition is expected to begin in August with construction beginning in the fall. The project for the actual gymnasium coincides with the development of the new Student Recreation Center, which will be adjacent to the gym, but they are separate projects. This lengthy, two-year “McNeal” project will directly impact SOU indoor sport athletes and fans alike, as sports such as basketball and volleyball will be forced to play their “home” games at Ashland High School.
Still, safety risks deemed the remodel necessary. The main purposes for the renovation are the current building has safety issues, is deficient, and not compliant with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). According to a Mail Tribune article from last year, SOU Athletic Director Matt Sayre (who was unavailable for comment), said, “It’s exceptional news for us. It’s going to be a lot of seismic renovation, HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), and much-needed ADA upgrades for the basement and locker room.”
The main purpose of the new Student Rec Center is for students, whom are funding a large portion of the project by student fees. According to Associate Athletic Director Bobby Heiken, “The students saw a need for a new Rec Center, so that’s why they ended up taxing themselves”
Although the projects have separate funding sources (the McNeal portion is funded by emergency funding from the state), construction will integrate whenever necessary. According to SOU’s head of community and media relations, Ryan Brown, “They are separate projects with separate funding sources, but in order to make the most out of efficiencies and keep costs down, we have combined resources when possible. Construction will be taking place essentially simultaneously.”
As a result of both projects, most of the building, including the main gym, auxiliary gym, the dance studio, and pool will be torn down. The pool, however, is not in the plans for the new Student Rec Center. SOU doesn’t have a swim team, and the pool was mainly used by high school teams. The decision to cut the pool was partly by the students when they taxed themselves a couple years ago; the majority of students did not favor funding the pool.
In the next week there will be a meeting to take the next step in forming the project’s plans. The Siskiyou will continue to update the construction.