The coronavirus pandemic has whistled a timeout to several athletic facility projects at UCSB, but director of athletics John McCutcheon is hopeful that a restart will come soon enough to satisfy Gaucho scheduling needs for next year.
Most prominent among those projects are a new tennis center, a new video board for Harder Stadium, and a completion of the arena seating at the Thunderdome.
“There’s never a dull moment around here,” McCutcheon said.
Most notably, the pandemic has delayed the California Coastal Commission’s approval of the John and Jody Arnhold Tennis Center. Many of the issues on the commission’s agenda had to be tabled during its meeting three weeks ago after Steve Padilla, the commission chair, took ill with the virus. Padilla, 53, is now in the intensive care unit at UC San Diego’s Thornton Hospital.
The Coastal Commission cancelled its next scheduled meeting that was to be held in Oxnard on April 15-17 but hopes to hold a “remote or virtual” meeting in May.
“We’re still continuing with the project 100% with the construction documents,” McCutcheon said. “We’re still pretty well aligned.
“We hope we’ll have it done a year from now if we continue on course.”
The 1,860 square-foot tennis center, which is being funded by a $5.25 million donation from the Arnhold family, will include six new tennis courts; the refurbishing of two existing courts at the current site near Robertson Gym; a team building complete with locker rooms, team lounge and storage space, and seating for more than 300 spectators.
The old video board at Harder Stadium, installed before the 2010 College Cup, broke down last season and needs to be replaced before the 2020 College Cup. The Final Four for NCAA men’s soccer is scheduled to be held at UCSB on Dec. 11 and 13.
“We’re seeing pretty good progress — we’re about 65% where we need to be, fundraising-wise,” McCutcheon said. “But most of the components for the video board come from China, which creates its own set of complications (with coronavirus trade restrictions).”
UCSB replaced the old bench seating in the reserved section of the Thunderdome with new chairback, theater seats last year. McCutcheon said he was received “a significant commitment” from donors to complete the project.
“But this is getting complicated by the times, like everything else,” he added. “We’ll have to let the dust settle and then we can move forward aggressively with this project, as well.”