Officials plan to replace two HWC courts

The University must replace the third- and fourth-floor basketball courts in the Lerner Health and Wellness Center, after a soccer ball set off the sprinkler system more than a week ago and caused the floors to flood.

Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Facilities Tony Vecchione said replacement is likely to begin this week on the third floor, which will take about a month. Students can use the fourth floor gym starting Tuesday; Vecchione said work will begin on that court after the third floor is replaced.

The courts were damaged to the point at which they were no longer salvageable, officials said.

Although the fourth floor will be open for basketball and volleyball, students must refrain from playing soccer in the gym until the University assesses the situation with the sprinklers, Vecchione said.

The auxiliary gyms in the Smith Center can be used Monday to Thursday from 9:30 p.m. until midnight – normal operating hours. Smith Center hours will not be extended for free play time.

“Right now, the third and fourth floors are dry, but the plywood underneath is still wet in spots, which is why the floors need replacing,” Vecchione said. “You just don’t know how long (repair is) going to take or if (the floors) will ever dry at all.”

Vecchione said the third floor is “not playable,” but pieces of the floor will be “cut off and grafted into the fourth floor” to make it useable until it is repaired in a month.

Classes scheduled for the gyms will move to other locations, such as the Smith Center, but none will be canceled. Vecchione said the closings may cut back open gym time but will not create scheduling conflicts with the Smith Center.

Vecchione said the Health and Wellness Center will not be overcrowded but places will be “heavily scheduled.” He added that some cardiovascular equipment from the third floor may be moved to the squash lobby to alleviate traffic in the gym.

The preliminary cost assessment will be about $240,000, Vecchione said. Joseph Yohe, assistant director of risk management, said all expenses regarding cleanup and floor replacement are covered by insurance.

Vecchione said other parts of the gym may close at times during repairs, but only for a few days or hours at a time.

“We’ll play it by ear and do everything possible to keep these areas open as often as we can,” he said.

Some students understand the University’s decision to close the floors one at a time.

“There’s no point in stressing over something you can’t fix,” freshman Dan Corwin said.

But junior Alex Kattell, who regularly uses the gym to play basketball pick-up games, said that “there should be no soccer on the basketball court.”

He said the only good thing about the courts’ closure is it gives him an excuse to use the outdoor courts.

“I enjoy playing outdoors, anyway,” said Kattell, who played on the outdoor court next to Quigley’s over the weekend.

Although Vecchione said there are no plans to expand Smith Center hours for non-varsity athletes, several students said they should be allowed to work out there until the Health and Wellness Center returns to a normal schedule.

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