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St. Francis plans campus addition

$1.5 million building would cater to athletes, parties

– The University of Saint Francis is planning a 12,000-square-foot, two-story building at the south end of Bishop D’Arcy Stadium, according to paperwork filed with the Allen County Department of Planning Services.

The building, expected to cost up to $1.5 million, will provide a conditioning center for athletes and a space for group parties.

The college is seeking a contingent use variance to allow construction of the Bruce Dye Football Strength Training Center. The complex will feature a fitness area and visitors’ locker room on the first floor. The second floor will allow open-air viewing of football games when the Saint Francis Cougars take on opponents.

Although the viewing area is primarily for football and soccer games, other events may be scheduled at the center, which will operate year-round. University staff expect to meet with neighborhood association groups to inform them of the college’s intentions.

A meeting before zoning officials will take place in March. No date has been set.

Dye is founder of Heritage Food Service Equipment and the donor for the project, said Andrew Prall, vice president of academic affairs at Saint Francis.

“It’s all very preliminary at this point,” he said. “Our generous donor is making this possible. This is something that is going to free up some space in the stadium by moving the visitors’ locker room.”

The complex will be open to other students, but mostly will be used by members of the football team, Prall said. Adding a fitness area for the football team will afford students more access to the campus’ other workout room, he said.

Fans used to camp out in tents to watch the game on the stadium’s south side, but now they will have something more enclosed.

“That was the main reason for this,” Prall said. “At this point, we’re not planning permanent seating up there but it will be a nice place for people to gather during games.”

Construction could begin in April with the center opening before the Cougars begin play in September.