Teams to return to Smith Center

After temporarily vacating Smith Center for the past few months due to ongoing construction, GW’s men’s and women’s athletic teams will be officially moving into their new locker rooms Monday, Assistant Director of Athletics for Facilities Jason Wilson said Wednesday.

The men’s water polo and men’s and women’s cross country teams already moved into their respective spaces earlier this week, Wilson said. The men’s water polo team even held Monday’s practice in the arena’s revamped pool, though they were later relocated to the Mount Vernon campus for the remainder of the week when one of the pool’s monitoring units proved unready. Wilson said the move was precautionary and that the team will return to the Smith Center pool Monday.

The current phase of renovations began in March after the conclusion of the men’s and women’s basketball seasons. Work continued through the summer as the building remained occupied by the school’s athletic administration, which temporarily shifted its offices to the auxiliary gym amid the construction.

Several other aspects of the renovation were completed over the summer, including the fitness center, varsity free weight room and academic suite on the first floor. Visitors will also notice the new lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling and, perhaps most prominently, a full replacement of the bleacher sections with chair-back seating.

“It looks awesome,” Wilson said. “The feedback has been incredible. The coaches are very excited.”

According to Wilson, the lone structural delay stemmed from the Colonials Club, an exclusive area for the basketball program’s top donors. The club is located on the arena’s western side, on court level beneath the stands. It is still expected to be ready for basketball season in November, if not sooner, Wilson said.

The other work remaining to be completed in this current phase is mostly cosmetic, Wilson said, such as painting and signage.

“It’s like moving into a new house,” Wilson said. “You go in and there are just some last minute things you’ve just got to touch up.”

The first official athletic competition will take place Oct. 2, when the women’s volleyball team will host Rhode Island. The volleyball and men’s water polo teams will play all of their nonconference games away from Foggy Bottom to accommodate the completion of the renovation project. The first home water polo match will be Oct. 8 against Bucknell.

The building will also host the University Convocation this Sunday.

A third phase of renovation is scheduled to be completed by early 2011 and will include changes to the exterior and entrances to the building, as well as new concessions concourses.

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