The University of South Dakota’s new outdoor track and soccer complex will have seating for 2,000 spectators, but spectators won’t have access to the usual concessions and restrooms when it opens.
A preliminary estimate for a restroom and concessions building in the complex was $1 million. That cost forced project managers to remove the building plans for now.
The complex, being built north of the Wellness Center, will be completed this fall and will open in spring 2016. This will allow USD to host the 2016 Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships in May 2016.
“We have permanent restrooms at the concessions at the softball diamond, and we can pull in portable toilets if we need to for large crowds,” Lorin Wilcox, project manager, said. “But we can’t have a track meet without a track, and we can’t have a competition soccer game without the competition soccer field. The thing that had to be cut in order to get in the budget was that building.”
USD Athletic Director David Herbster called the bathrooms and concessions a “non-factor.”
He said a plan exists to add a full bathroom and concession area to the complex in the future. Deciding to cut the bathroom and concession building from phase one of construction was made about a year ago.
“It’s not going to detract from the functionality of the facility at all,” he said. “The bathrooms — whether they start off as portable bathrooms and a building that’s built later or you’ve got the bathrooms that are over in the softball center diamond area — it’s not as if individuals out there are left in the dust.”
The project is running on schedule, both Herbster and Wilcox said. The total cost of the outdoor track and soccer complex is estimated at $7.33 million.
Junior golfer Miles Death regularly attends most Coyote athletic events. He said something as small as bathrooms puts a stain on improvements to campus. Being a Division I school demands the best possible facility accommodations, he said.
“To build a complex without something as crucial as bathrooms just seems a little backwards,” Death said. “Fan experience should be a top priority…something like bathrooms adds to the perception of us being legitimate and outhouses are an eye sore.”
Herbster said he does not see it as an issue like people outside the decision-making process might see it.
He said the construction process is fluid. On a weekly basis, small design elements of the projects change.
“There’s probably what people’s perception is, and there’s probably what’s practical and what’s reality,” Herbster said. “It’s part of the design to go in there. When’s it going to go in? I don’t know.”
Herbster said the bathroom situation won’t be as much of an issue for spectators at events as it will be for student athletes who will use the complex daily.
Sophomore Ravan Kott, a sprinter for USD track and field, will be using the facility when it opens in the spring 2016 semester. She does not believe athletes would use the port-a-potties.
“That is going to be an extreme inconvenience,” Kott said. “Not only would it take time away from us practicing to go use the restrooms somewhere else, but our track spikes will also harm and potentially destroy existing bathrooms.”
Wilcox said infrastructure for a bathroom and concession stand at the complex was in place. The area has a sanitary sewer and underground water to link to, but the cost of the building was something that had to be moved into the next phase of construction.
“In every project, we do have unforeseen conditions that do come up, different things that happen where we try to save money or we end up having to spend money we didn’t plan on,” Wilcox said. “It was a matter of what we can live without and still have a track meet.”
For Herbster, the looming events being hosted at the complex are coming up fast. He said they are hanging right on top of the athletic department. Ideally, Herbster wants to host a few small track and soccer events before the Summit League conference meet.
The key to being prepared is maintaining the completion date.
“The biggest thing for us is to get the track built, the stands built, get all the infrastructure in and around it built,” Herbster said. “That’s key and primary to actually opening up the facility on time and within budget.”