New athletic complex set to open


Nathan Hiemer

The Kirk Gardner Athletic Complex is shown here near its completion last month.

Hannah Henriksen, Staff Writer

The Kirk Gardner Complex, an indoor turf sports facility is set to open for students and athletes in mid-September.

Contractors will complete an inspection on Sept. 16 to finalize the facility. It will be open to students and athletes shortly after.

The complex includes a turf field the size of a basketball court and employee offices on the balcony above. It is equipped with batting cages, putting greens and volleyball net hook ups. the space will be open for sports teams, intramurals and general use. Mike Barry, Director of Sports and Rec Center, said the complex will help relieve some stress from the rec center. It will provide another open space and allow for our athletes to practice at a more regular time and on a more consistent basis.

“Every sport can probably use this [facility] some way or another,” Barry said.

Open hours for the general student population will initially run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Barry said discussions between coaches, club sports and intramurals continue as edits in the schedule may occur once the complex opens. Like the rec center, the Gardner complex will have a staff member working the desk, and equipment will be available for students to check out for use.

The project has been in the making for two years. Lack of student usage and mechanical issues led to the decision of replacing the pool with a different facility. Mike Powicki, Wayne State Athletic Director, said deciding how to fill the space was a difficult process.

After visiting other campuses with similar facilities, a turf surface was found to be more versatile, which led to their decision on how to fill the space. Turf will provide an area for athletic teams to practice different from what is currently available for students.

Fundraising for the complex began in the fall of 2019, with construction beginning in January 2020. The project overall was set for $1.3 million. The original completion date was Sept. 1, but COVID-19 added some complications to the process, pushing the date back slightly.

“It turned out almost exactly like we wanted it to, so we got every inch out of it that we could, so I’m excited about that,” Powicki said. “The first day we get some students using it, I’ll be excited.”

The Kirk Gardner Athletic Complex is shown here near its completion last month.
Nathan Hiemer