On Sept. 19, Rowan University sent out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). The RFQ, titled, “Proposed Regional Sports & Entertainment Field House,” describes a plan to build a new indoor arena, which will be used for the university’s sports teams and for other events like commencements or concerts.
The RFQ is a type of plan that is released in the hopes of partnering with a real estate developer that can accomplish and help pay for what the university sets out to do. By using this type of construction project, the school can embark on this new project without having to spend money that could be used to help Rowan students in another way, or increase the amount of money students have to pay to attend school each year.
The potential field house would be built off of Route 55, on the school’s West Campus across from Inspira Hospital. It’s planned to include an event floor with a competition court for the men’s and women’s basketball teams in addition to two practice courts, media facilities and vast sections of seating. There will also be a concession stand and a shared laundry room between the men’s and women’s locker rooms.
“We’ve been trying for years to partner with companies that would be interested in building a multi-use arena, we would rent it out and basically lease it for our purposes,” said the Vice President for University Relations, Joe Cardona.
The field house, which will be a huge development for Rowan sports teams, also would leave room for community use and enhancement. High school sports, local events and regional events could also be held in the arena. The RFQ is the first step to making this idea into a reality.
“That’s the vision, that someone will look at that and say because of our location, because of the lack of these types of facilities in South Jersey that it’s worth it for them to build it,” Cardona said. “Of course, they know that we would be one of the largest tenants there, that we would rent the facility ‘X’ amount of days per year.”
Even though the proposed project is big news for Rowan, there is no guarantee that anything will be built in the near future. The university will first have to find someone who is willing to invest in and develop this facility. Only once that happens can they can start making more concrete plans, timelines and budgets.
“While it’s exciting, it’s not something that would happen right away. This process takes a good six months and by then we would be lucky to be able to pick someone by the summertime. After that, even if you pick someone by the summer time it would still be two years after that,” Cardona said.
Despite the fact that the facility may require some time before the project is complete, sports teams and coaches are still excited about the idea of a new and improved facility for their teams.
“This is an elite educational university of elite status, with elite goals. And why not have that for your student-athletes who can prepare at an elite level, and be in the NCAA? That’s what you want. We represent the university and we should be building facilities and taking our athletes to the next level. It’s all about having a good education and athletics is a part of that.” said Rowan women’s basketball head coach, Demetrius Poles.
Poles also sees the field house as a catalyst to help the community and local young athletes as well.
“Here in South Jersey, a lot of kids play soccer. There’s really not a strong basketball culture here and that’s what I want to cultivate, a really strong female basketball culture here for young ladies and little girls starting out and the facility. If you have the facility, you have my team as role models for the little girls, you can’t beat that … So we, I would like to be a part of that and see that grow and see the community grow, and you develop a lot of pride in that,” Poles said.
The report also states that they could look to include a hockey facility in the future to the field house.
The RFQ will remain open for submissions and responses from developers until Oct. 27.
As Rowan continues to grow, the campus continues to grow with it, opening up the possibility for facilities like the field house. Even though the project is still in its early stages, the new development could be a great way to upgrade and improve the university’s sports facilities and enhance the campus culture.
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