In mid-September, New England College received an anonymous pledge for $5 million to build a new Athletic Complex on the Henniker campus. The school has a goal to raise $12 million to begin construction on the Complex, with the total estimated cost being $15 million.
“We should be able to raise that $12 million by the end of the academic year. That’s my plan, I’m ambitious,” said President Michele Perkins.
NEC works with dozens of people connected to the college that have been able to make significant donations towards projects like the Athletic Complex. The $5 million pledge has stirred up more interest from donors and the school has already had some preliminary commitments.
“Being able to tell them that we have secured this pledge was helpful in getting other people to say, ‘okay, I’m in too’,” said President Perkins.
A press release reported that the school intends to secure another $7 million in funding before moving to the final design stage. However, construction is planned to begin in the spring of 2020, anticipating the opening of the Complex for the 2022-2023 school year.
“It’ll take a couple years to do the whole complex because we’ll do it in phases so that we don’t just take everything down and we can’t use it while we’re doing construction,” said President Perkins.
The Complex will be 45,000 square feet. Two new buildings will be constructed: a gym that will be two floors and seat 1,300 spectators and an administration building. Bridges Gym and the Field House will be completely renovated. The lower level of Bridges Gym will be renovated for sports medicine and hydro-therapy and additional office space. The Complex will then be “wrapped” with a facade to make all the buildings look the same.
“The architect wanted to make it look, and I think he succeeded, as though it was all new, so that it looked like it was all planned and designed at the same time even though two buildings are already there,” said President Perkins.
The architectural design for the Complex was a gift from Scott Simpson, an NEC trustee and award-winning architect. Simpson also designed the John Lyon’s Center and the soon to be completed Rosamond Page Putnam Center for the Performing Arts. According to President Perkins, the goal was to give the Athletic Center some architectural interest instead of it being a big box.
“What we want to achieve is to have that country New England look that’s sort of reminiscent of a barn, but a very classy barn. We like to say, with the buildings we design, that it blends in, but stands out.”
President Perkins expressed that the new Complex will benefit everyone. NEC’s press release reported that half of the undergraduate residents on campus participate in a team sport with many others in recreational and club sports. The Complex will also allow for more club sports and more room for sports teams. There are no plans for more parking at this time, but with the construction of the Putnam Center wrapping up, a large portion of the Currier lot will open.
The Athletic Complex has been a long time coming. Ten years ago, NEC had an architectural firm assess the campus and create a plan for what the school needed to improve and progress. Since then, a $40 million Capital Campaign has resulted in the Lyons Center, the Putnam Center, and now the Athletic Complex.
“At the time I thought, wow, I hope I can, at least, before I retire, raise the money for two of those buildings,” said President Perkins. “Now it looks like it’ll be three.”