With a turn of the dirt, a celebration of breaking ground for the University of West Florida’s newest addition took place on Thursday.
The University Park Center is expected to cost $6.8 million and will be a mixed-use facility right next to the Pen Air Federal Credit Union Field.
“This will be the home of the weight room and locker room; it’s what [the Argos] said they needed the most, said Judith Bense, president of UWF. “It also will be the home of our College of Health, which is a year old and is kind of in temporary quarters [at] Florida State University Medical College here.”
The 32,700-square-foot building will also be home to some additional space for the Health College as well as the Florida State University College of Medicine that’s partnered with UWF.
“This gives us the opportunity that we would never have without this partnership,” said Paul Mcleod, senior associate dean of Regional Campuses at Florida State University College of Medicine.
“It allows us to take advantage of all the programs available at UWF in order to train with physical therapy students [and] exercise science students.”
UWF hopes that the project will fulfill various students’ needs, emphasizing athletics.
With the Argos dominating their first season on the field, the university is ready to move forward with a designated place for athletes to train.
“For our players, they’re going to finally have a permanent home and a place they can call their own,” said Pete Shinnick, the Argos’ head coach. “For the athletic department, it gives them another opportunity for weight training because the weight room we [currently] have is not built for the amount of student athletes we have.”
Thursday’s groundbreaking marks the start of the second development phase of University Park.
The first phase wrapped up in Feb. 2016, constructing what was later deemed the Pen Air Federal Credit Union Field in September.
The project is expected to reach completion by the spring 2018 semester.