Extreme Makeover: Yale Edition

Don’t let the blue scaffolding scaling its walls fool you: Payne Whitney Gymnasium is not the only athletic facility getting a face-lift.

Unlike the gym, some of Yale’s other athletic buildings have recently received more than just exterior aesthetic touch-ups.

Although Payne Whitney is the epicenter of athletics at Yale, many of its satellite complexes around campus, and around the city, are growing into athletic hubs themselves. These new athletic buildings attest to Yale’s commitment to providing state-of-the-art facilities for Elis, Athletic Director Tom Beckett said.

This year, Yale welcomed student-athletes back to school with additional indoor tennis courts, and renovations to Ingalls Rink, home to Yale’s hockey programs.

The Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center is a new improvement to the tennis courts at the Walter Camp field complex, next to the Yale Bowl.

Before the project began, Yale had 27 outdoor courts, but was limited to only four indoor courts, making it difficult for Bulldogs to train throughout the year.

The project added four more indoor courts to the Cullman facility, connected to the existing courts by a new lobby. Construction on the tennis center began in March 2007.

But the addition includes more than just courts for competition. The new center includes team locker rooms, a team room and coaches’ offices.

Besides additional facilities for athletes, the new facility also creates spaces for the Yale community to come together.

“I think the new facility will definitely attract more fans,” women’s tennis captain Lilian Nguyen ’09 said. “For one thing, it can accommodate many more people, and it’s also just a better atmosphere.”

In addition to more facilities, the athletics department is also in the process of renovating Ingalls Rink. Not to be lost in the sea of construction of new science buildings and residential colleges, the Whale’s renovations are also riding the tide of change.

“The exciting thing about the renovation is that it is preserving the unique architecture of the Whale, while bringing the facilities up to date,” women’s hockey captain Sarah Tittman ’09 said. “I think fans will be very pleased with what has been done thus far, and by next season there will be many more changes that have taken place.”

The $23 million renovation of the rink, which began in the spring, is divided into three phases. After last year’s hockey season, Phase I began with renovations to the heart of the Whale so that teams would be able to hold normal practices and competition upon their return in September.

The wooden benches in the stands were refurbished, and the existing press box was gutted and renovated. A second press box was added for visitors on the other side of the rink.

However, the most noticeable change to Ingalls Rink is the new ice slab, which was the largest undertaking of Phase I. The new ice slab was lowered nine inches, and as a result, construction crews not only had to remove the ice, but also had to completely rebuild the structure underneath it. The decision to lower the ice was made to create better lines of sight for fans.

Ingalls will see more improvements over the next year. Phase II of the project has already begun. This period of construction will target the interior of underground facilities. A 14,000 square-foot addition will be constructed under the parking lot on Mansfield Street. It will house the men’s and women’s varsity locker rooms, a sports medicine center and a strength and conditioning room. This will make the Whale an all-inclusive training center for hockey players.

“These facilities were built with the primary purpose of providing a first rate experience,” Beckett said. “We want our student-athletes to get as much as possible out of their time here at Yale.”

Renovations to Ingalls Rink are expected to conclude in Fall 2009.

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