COLUMN: BC Needs A Permanent Indoor Facility
Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 23:02
It’s time. After the bubble at Alumni Stadium collapsed last week (the second time in four years the weather has caused it to shut down), it’s time to get rid of it.
It’s time to join the 21st century and build an indoor athletic facility for Boston College athletics.
I know the bubble has risen from its demise after just a week of being down, but that doesn’t mean the issue should be ignored. And still, it likely won’t be usable for some time. The damage to the bubble smashed all of the glass lighting fixtures inside, something that will have to be cleaned out of the turf for the next week or two.
When it is usable, the bubble is great— as a temporary fix.
In order to keep up with up Division I schools, BC needs to build a permanent indoor facility.
Concerned about where it will go? Build it on the Brighton Campus. There is space there. It’s an indoor facility that won’t attract a huge crowd of people, so there shouldn’t be much of a problem getting it passed by the city. Or, if the city ever allows the building of a new baseball and softball stadium on Brighton campus, then put the indoor facility on Shea Field. It’s just a bit of a shorter trip than a bus down to Foxborough or Cohasset, where two teams have had to travel in the past week because of the collapse.
Concerned about the cost? Yeah, it might cost a lot right now. But 10 years down the road, it’s worth it. The athletic department spends money every year to put the bubble up, and then when the weather makes it unusable, is forced to pay for buses and other expenses because of it. Why pay for the bubble every year when it’s at best a temporary fix? Invest for the long-term.
Concerned about why BC would spend the money on a losing football team? Well, the indoor practice venue isn’t just about the football team. Plenty of teams would call this new indoor facility their winter home.
There’s the baseball team, who began their season on Friday in North Carolina. The week before their season starts, their practice facility—the bubble—was destroyed. They spent their final week of preseason all over the place. They were in the Plex one day, and the other days had to travel to batting cages and indoor facilities to get some sort of practice in.
The softball team was handed the same certificate of homelessness after the bubble’s collapse, two weeks before they start their season. Without their “practice facility” they too were forced to adjust on the fly.
There’s also the lacrosse team who was struck homeless by the collapse. Since they couldn’t have their normal practice in the bubble last week, the team had an early wake-up call so they could get on a bus down to Cohasset where they practiced. Leaving BC at 5 a.m., the team had a two-hour drive to Cohasset with traffic just so they could practice.
Even the golf team has had to make other plans. They announced via Twitter that they signed an agreement with Bosse Sports in Sudbury (a 30-minute drive) to be their new home for the winter.
It’s a harsh reality, but the collegiate spring sports schedule begins in February, with preseason practices starting even before that. And in a place like Chestnut Hill, it’s unacceptable to have only a temporary bubble for those teams to practice in. When the bubble is up and functioning, it can serve as a solid practice facility. But when it collapses and is out of use for the rest of the season, something has to change.
That is the immediate concern. By next month, those teams will all be playing and practicing outside at BC for the most part.
But if you’re still concerned about why BC would pay for a facility that could be used for the losing football team, think about when head coach Steve Addazio is trying to recruit. When a high school player asks about practice facilities for the winter, all Addazio can say right now is that BC has a bubble. One that is serviceable, as long as Chestnut Hill doesn’t get hit too hard by the snow in a given winter. Imagine if he could say that BC had a state-of-the-art indoor facility where the team can practice.
It’s the football team that is most affected by the bubble’s collapse for the long-term. When the pressure of wet snow tore through it in 2010, their whole spring football schedule got changed around. BC’s Pro Day, got moved to Harvard.
Since this year’s damage, the football team has been traveling to Foxborough to use the Patriots’ indoor facility. It’s an inconvenience, an extra cost for all the buses, and something that could be avoided if a permanent practice facility were built at BC.
Meanwhile, plenty of schools in the south have indoor practice fields, in case they are hit by rain, or—God forbid—the temperature gets below 50 degrees.
And it’s not just southern powerhouses that have these facilities. All you have to do is look next-door. UConn has an indoor facility that was built in 2006. Syracuse, who is coming to the ACC next year, is reportedly set to build one as well.
It’s time for something permanent. How about instead of paying to put the bubble up every year and hoping that the weather doesn’t damage it, the athletic department invests in a permanent indoor facility? Now is the time to make that happen.
There’s no doubt that the indoor facility would be expensive, but the long-term investment is absolutely worth it—financially and athletically—for the school, and for the hundreds of student-athletes involved.