Mac sports looking for home away from home

By William Kennedy

After bringing in a new athletic director, changing several job descriptions and bringing in two new head coaches in the last year, Mac athletics is about to face another major shake up in the coming months.

After bringing in a new athletic director, changing several job descriptions and bringing in two new head coaches in the last year, Mac athletics is about to face another major shake up in the coming months. All varsity sports that play or practice indoors at Macalester need to relocate before construction begins on the new field house. The athletic department is shooting for a scenario where the teams won’t have to look far for a temporary home.

“We have some parts of [the move] figured out,” Athletic Director Travis Feezell said. He added however, that the relocation process has a way to go before it’s finalized. “We’re having conversations but we haven’t nailed anything down.”

If everything goes according to plan, men and women’s basketball and volleyball will play their games and have their practices at Cretin-Derham high school, located about one-quarter mile from Mac on the corner of Randolph and Hamline Avenues. During the foul weather season, softball and baseball would also hold their indoor practices at the private high school. While the deal is not finalized, Feezell explained that only formalities remain in the negotiations. “I haven’t put my name on a contract,” he said. “But we have the details worked out.”

For water polo and swimming, Macalester will likely call on St. Catherine’s College for assistance. Athletes from the all girl’s college, located on Randolph Avenue, currently use the track at Macalester for track and field practice. Feezell is confident that an agreement can be reached, and talks are underway with St. Kate’s about a possible deal.

Decisions about a practice facility for indoor track and field are still in their early stages. Feezell noted that a possible site is the indoor track of Concordia University of St. Paul where the team practiced occasionally this winter. However, that college has not been approached with a proposal yet.

Intramural and recreational athletes will also have to find a place outside the field house for the next two years. Ironically, a facility for them could end up being more convenient—at least for underclassmen— as right now the College is looking at IHM St. Luke’s School, less than a block away on Summit. The kindergarten through elementary school should offer some athletic offices, a general weight room and a gym. “We think we’ll be able to run some intramural activities and some phys ed classes there,” Feezell said. Clearly there will be some limitations, but we should be able to keep most things up and running.”

One thing that the college has not figured out is locker space for its athletes. With the old fieldhouse gone, virtually all of the lockers on the college, except for the football lockers located in the stadium, will disappear. Finding a sizeable chunk of space for lockers in a location near to the school is no easy task, and Feezell says that little progress has been made toward resolving the issue. He added that, unless a creative solution is thought up soon, that problem may never be resolved. “It may be that our teams just aren’t going to have locker room spaces,” he said.

Feezell, along with his associates in the department and the administration will have the next few months to work on the problem of locker room space and settle the negotiations for team practices. The deadline for construction and the beginning of winter sports, however, is fast approaching.

“As far as I know, we’re still on target to break ground in December,” Feezell said. “Knowing that tells us when we’ve got to be out of here.”

Construction of the new field house is expected to take 18 to 20 months. If deadlines are met, it will open in the academic year of Fall 2008.