Walter Fieldhouse construction nears an end as administrators search for director and plan for its open

The Walter Fieldhouse remains under construction, but completion is soon approaching. Officials hope that the facility will be used by student groups and classes as well as athletics.(Isaac Hale | Staff Photographer)

As students are buckling down for the semester’s home stretch, construction workers are closing in on completing the Walter Fieldhouse.

By the time Ohio University students return from Winter Intercession, the facility will most likely be overseen by a newly-hired director and be about a month away from opening its doors.

“I think the last I heard was a mid-February opening, to be all done,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for Student Affairs. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”

The fieldhouse’s roof and side

paneling are almost completely constructed, and workers have begun adding aesthetic touches to the building’s exterior. Installing windows and a heating system are next, said Mark Ferguson, OU executive director of campus recreation.

Ferguson, who himself took the campus recreation reigns less than two weeks ago, said OU officials are “ramping up” discussion about solidifying a schedule for the facility once a fieldhouse director is appointed.

“There’s been so much up in the air,” he said.

Douglas Franklin, formerly OU’s campus recreation director, said in the spring that he predicts athletics and classes will use the facility during weekday business hours.

The new fieldhouse director will be paid between $41,316 and $48,078, Lombardi said. He or she will be responsible for daily operations of the $13 million fieldhouse and managing its employees and its approximate $150,000 annual budget.

Student funds totaling $822,000 annually have been allocated to debt and maintenance, according to a previous Post article.

Lombardi said about $35,000 of the facility’s budget will be dedicated to student staffing.

He also noted that Dan Morris, former Bird Arena director and Ohio hockey coach, would have been considered for a pro- motion to manage Bird and the fieldhouse if he hadn’t left the university late last month.

The fieldhouse director will report directly to Ferguson, who said an ideal candidate can communicate clearly between the variety of entities — athletics, classes, club and intramural sports, the Marching 110, ROTC, among others — that plan to use the facility and massage the kinks that are sure to follow its opening.

“It’s going to take a full year to figure out and work through some of those initial issues,” Ferguson said. “You can talk through so much of it out front and try to play for scenarios ... but until each one of those groups gets into the facility and gets a feel for it, there’s going to be lots of adjustments.”

@Jimryan015

This article appeared in print under the headline "Walter Fieldhouse construction nears an end as administrators search for director, plan for open"

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