Sonoma State’s gym is getting a long overdue upgrade. This winter, the current, 47-year-old wooden bleachers will be replaced with new, state-of-the-art bleachers. Construction will begin the week before Thanksgiving, which will disrupt the basketball seasons and cause both the men’s and women’s basketball teams to play some home games elsewhere.
The project will begin the week on Nov. 21 and will be completed before the end of winter break.
For the men’s basketball team, there are seven dates and 13 games that will not be played in the gym. For the women’s basketball team, they will miss five home games. Their season now includes just four actual home games.
Bill Fusco, the director of athletics, realizes the timing is not ideal.
“Obviously it has a big impact on the [basketball season] and obviously our first choice was to do it during the summer, but that did not work out,” said Fusco.
A contract was signed by former Sonoma State President Ruben Armiñana in late June that approved the project and gave it funding.
“This [contract signing] pushed the timing on the project back quite a bit,” said Fusco.
The project is considered a capital project, which is a publicly-funded project that helps maintain or improve a facility. For every capital project, there are certain upgrades that must be made to comply with certain rules and building codes. Bill Fusco laid out these upgrades.
“The restrooms in the lobby have to be upgraded. There is also a fire alarm system being installed inside The Wolves’ Den, and a hearing assistance system.” said Fusco.
The bleachers themselves cost about $650,000, and the entire project will cost approximately $1.1 million. This includes all costs, including the removal of the old bleachers and building fees. The funding is coming from Sonoma State UniversityThe current west side bleachers are completely dysfunctional officials say, which has been an inconvenience to many. During basketball and volleyball games, fans can only sit on one side of the court. Last April, Seawolf Decision Day, normally held in the gym, had to be moved to four different locations. This has heightened the need for new bleachers.
“These are the original bleachers when the gymnasium was constructed 47 years ago so these bleachers will have all the upgrades in terms of railings, seating, and all those things,” said Fusco.
The new bleachers will be plastic, with a steel frame and aluminum railings. One upgrade is the addition of 449 chairs with backs to them.
The displaced home games will take place at Santa Rosa Junior College or the College of Marin. Both of these schools are more than ten miles away, and how the team will get to the games is still unclear. Also, players are concerned that there is a diminished fan presence because of the distance from the school
For Mark Rigby, the head coach of women’s basketball, this project creates a major obstacle for his team to overcome. Due to construction, women’s basketball will have only four games in The Wolves’ Den this year.
“I don’t think the impact on our team having only four home games will be a very positive one,” said Rigby. “At this point, we don’t even know where we are going to practice.”
The team will be at a disadvantage because instead of playing home games where they practice, they will have to travel to an unfamiliar location.
“It’s probably not the scenario you want to draw up,” said Rigby.
The timing of the project has put the basketball teams into a certain state of turmoil, with so much still up in the air as they approach their seasons. This season begins on Nov. 11 with an away game against Western Washington University.