Campus Master Plan includes renovations for CAP

The Master Plan is in the limelight once again, only this time the point of interest is the Carneval Athletic Pavillion Recreation Center. According to Gannon University’s Master Plan, by the year 2020, there are hopes that the Recreational Center will be renovated with some downtown additions. These ideas encompass an indoor dome facility, as well as a possible softball/baseball field somewhere in downtown Erie. These additions and renovations would affect not just students, but student-athletes, faculty, staff and the downtown Erie area.

Don Henry, wrestling coach and current director of the CAP, said he’s excited about the renovations.

“We want to go big and make everybody happy,” he said. 

These plans have to go through a series of steps before any hefty decisions are made by anyone. Currently, the recreational renovation committee meets monthly to discuss different ways to reach students and gather their input to improve the current CAP. Once this committee collects the results they need, the Office of University Advancement can start to get the ball rolling by finding donors to fund these expensive projects. It is a delicate and lengthy process that will affect a lot of Gannon’s community.

Student-athletes would reap a great deal of benefits from these renovations. One option on the table is entering into a partnership with the Erie School District to use the Ainsworth Field to accommodate the baseball and softball teams. 

Keith Taylor, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs, commented on the move of baseball and softball, and how that would allow for the construction of more permanent bleachers and a nicer press box than the current stadium.

The question of less student attendance at games is “not the intention,” according to Taylor, and he said Gannon would do everything in its power to make sure they were still able to get students to games while making a better field choice for the sports of baseball and softball. The future could withhold a turf field, complete with concession stands and even locker rooms.

This would also allow the current stadium to be used for just Gannon football, soccer, and lacrosse. Mark Richard, the athletic director, said he thinks that an expanded weight room for student-athletes and an indoor facility would make Gannon Athletics more versatile.

Currently, most teams have the problem of having to compete for the same field and CAP space. He said hopes that eventually all teams will have their own locker rooms and the athletics program will be able to offer more practice times and facilities. Overall, Richard hopes that the renovations will enhance facilities for student-athletes as well as private students of Gannon.

A member of the renovation committee, as well as golf coach and assistant professor of sport and exercise science, Dr. Jason Willow, said that the renovations are “long overdue.” His dream outlook on the CAP renovations would include such features as a climbing wall, golf simulator, meeting rooms, student classrooms and a student union-type feel. He stressed his concerns for all athletic coaches that it is more challenging to recruit players to teams that can’t practice with the current facilities.

The idea of a renovated CAP, possible indoor dome facility and a separate field for baseball and softball is a futuristic view in the Master Plan. As Taylor had described the process, it is a domino effect. If all of the cards fall into place, Gannon will have a much brighter vision in 2020.

Willow might have said it best: “We need a facility that is somewhere where students can go as well as athletes.”


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A&L editor Theresa Pfister contributed to this story.