Multi-sport athletic dome coming to Schoolcraft’s campus
By Elaine Gerou, Staff Writer
Throughout the past year, Schoolcraft has formed many great partnerships to help students gain the most out of their college experience as possible—Wayne State University, Toledo University and Masco to name a few. Now, Schoolcraft wants to create even more opportunities by partnering with Universal Properties and Management, Inc. to fund building a $6 million athletic dome on campus. The 110,000 square foot dome will be erected 78 feet into the air at its highest point and will span 425 feet by 260 feet. Schoolcraft is managing and leasing the dome from Universal Properties for 25 years, and it is scheduled to be open for operation by August 2016.
Helping students graduate
“You think this is an outside the box thing, but in reality, we are doing this to get engagement so the students can complete [their college education],” said Glenn Cerny, Schoolcraft Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
“There are a lot of researchers that say if a student is engaged in activities outside the classroom, they will be successful and complete.
We know that intramural activities and access to domes and the Fitness Center is important for students.”
Schoolcraft’s completion rate for students to either obtain a two-year degree or transfer successfully is now at 60 percent, which is the highest rate of any community college in Michigan. Schoolcraft would like to increase that to 70 percent and having the dome will help the college achieve this goal.
“All of this revolves around student completion, student retention and getting more students on campus to get them a four year experience at a two year college for cheaper,” Cerny said.
The college is reserving the hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. nearly everyday for the use by students, clubs and Schoolcraft’s sport teams, but there will also be 40 to 50 student employment opportunities available. There are currently 314 students employed on campus, so the addition of jobs at the dome will significantly improve Schoolcraft’s offerings for students.
“It’s a great student learning opportunity. We will train our students on first aid and various caretakers things to make sure the dome is operating,” Cerny said. “There’s a lot of hours too because it will be open Monday through Sunday.”
Many of the jobs will deal with sports management, and the college is also looking for partnership opportunities with local hospitals to use the dome. With all of the unique opportunities offered at the dome, Schoolcraft predicts that it will directly increase enrollment by two to three percent.
Advancing the game
Schoolcraft’s sports teams are all extremely looking forward to the completion of the dome and how it will help the teams’ progress.
“This will provide a competitive edge for Schoolcraft athletic teams through its ability to allow our teams to train in a real game-like environment throughout the year,” Rey Linares, Schoolcraft’s Women’s Softball head coach said. “We will be able to conduct full indoor game scrimmages during the winter in preparation for our spring season.”
Currently, baseball and softball need to drive to Dearborn Heights for practice due to no indoor facility on campus.
“For some of us, it’s a 30 minute drive. With the new dome at Schoolcraft, it’ll be much more convenient,” freshman softball player Kassidy Lipinski said. Varsity soccer, baseball and softball and the rugby and lacrosse clubs will be the sports using the facility. Cross-country and golf will be able to utilize it too because there will be golf hitting nets and a track.
Benefiting the community
This dome won’t only benefit students of Schoolcraft either—it will benefit the entire community. “There is no dome in Livonia that is going to be doing what we will be doing. There’s a golf dome—that’s it. There’s not a sports dome,” Cerny said. The second major tenant of the dome will be Michigan Wolves-Hawks Soccer Club; they are making the site their official home with a lease of 25 years. With more than 800 youth and adult soccer travel players aged five to 18, they will utilize the dome from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 to 8 p.m. on the weekends.
In addition to the athletic dome, many other areas are being constructed to make Schoolcraft a better, more efficient campus. About 200 parking spots will be created next to the dome, and a turf soccer field will stand between the dome and Masco’s headquarters that are still currently being built. A two-lane road will also run from Masco’s parking lot to between the tennis courts and the dome to connect to the road behind the Biotech building’s parking. The road will be added onto to continue past the north parking lot all the way to 7 Mile Road. With the dome construction beginning in May, the outdoor turf field in June, the road continuation in March and April and Masco’s construction going on simultaneously, Schoolcraft’s campus will be as busy as a beehive. This athletic dome is yet again another way Schoolcraft is going above and beyond to provide for students and the community. Anyone interested in renting can contact Beth LaForest at 734-462-4416.