By: Joseph Lipovski
The majority of NAIT students enjoy NAIT’s athletic facilities and speak highly of the conditioning lab. However, many students describe NAIT’s Athletic facilities specifically the fitness centre as outdated and dreary.
Kennedy Hennig, Midfielder for NAIT’s women soccer team, sees NAIT’s athletic facilities from a different point of view. Hennig finds the fitness centre to be small and without enough equipment. “It’s nice to have a private area for us, I just wish it was a little bigger,” said Hennig. She believes the ice rink is a nice open space and is a perfect place for running stairs. Hennig though does believe that improvements could be made to the soccer facilities at NAIT. “It would be nice to have an [artificial] turf field to practice on for NAIT,” said Hennig.
Jeff Riddle, Manager Athletics & Recreation Facilities and Operations, understands the frustrations of students. The most criticized facility, the fitness centre, is located in the basement of the 45-year-old activities centre. As NAIT continues to grow, the Activities centre does not. Due to the limited space and small rooms, Riddle has been forced to get creative with the spaces available to him. Riddle has expanded into the hallway and repurposed storage rooms and most of the racquetball courts into usable spaces in order to keep up with the growth of NAIT. One storage room has been repurposed for a boulder climbing wall. “We can’t t another piece of equipment in there, without compromising safety,” said Riddle.
Although it might seem to some that NAIT’s athletic facilities have been forgotten about, NAIT has made many changes to athletic facilities in the past 5 years.
The arena has seen the most changes, with a new running track, bleachers and the rink boards were replaced with a removable system, making the area more of a multi-purpose facility.
The diving tower for the pool no longer met building codes and was replaced with a climbing wall. For the pool itself, a chlorine salt system replaced the gas chlorine system.
In the fitness centre, one of the racquetball courts was turned into the strength and conditioning lab.
A new floor and curtain system were added to the gym.
Riddle speculates that they might move their offices into NAITSA’s current offices, after NAITSA moves to the O-building, which would give the team much-needed space to expand.
Riddle says both the men’s and women’s team locker rooms are in great need of improvement, however, things like that are often cut first when NAIT tightens the budget. That has been a trend for the last 5 years.
NAIT is currently in the process of putting together a redevelopment plan which may give athletic facilities a new look. However, this plan is in the early stages and nothing has been confirmed yet. Part of that plan is the purchase of the Blatchford Lands, something NAIT has been negotiating for the past seven years. NAIT is now close to finalizing the purchase and has been negotiating the development of the land for shared use facilities for NAIT’s student community, Blatchford’s community,
and potentially for new athletic facilities.
“Changes to athletic facilities and [the] soccer field are in the longer plan, that hasn’t been lost, it’s just been delayed due to the Blatchford negotiations,” said Dr. Ray Block.
“If we’re going into a negotiation…where we build common facilities…where we build pools, rinks…that might be the better solution then to put minimal changes to our existing facilities,” said Block.
Riddle believes that NAIT is holding off on smaller scale improvements and expansions to athletic facili- ties and instead focusing their attention on the Blatch-ford purchase. As the soccer eld is not owned by NAIT, the big question might be if we will see a new eld as a result of the Blatchford purchase before the city of Edmonton decides to extend the metro line.