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Aquinas College Dedicates New 70,000-Square-Foot Indoor Athletic Building

Signals completion of Aquinas’ largest capital project to date

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indoor track

(Grand Rapids, Mich.) - On October 30, 2014, Aquinas College dedicated and officially opened the Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building on its campus. The new 70,000-square-foot indoor athletic facility houses a 200-meter NCAA-certified track, and a turf infield with portable court for use by intramural and varsity teams, including baseball, softball and lacrosse. The Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building completes Aquinas’ state-of-the-art $13 million athletic complex and signals the completion of Aquinas’ largest capital project to date. The complex also includes the Sturrus Sports & Fitness Center which opened in November, 2010.

“We are thrilled about the completion and opening of the new Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building,” said Juan Olivarez, Aquinas president. “As the only college in our athletic conference (the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference) with the versatility of the track, turf and portable floor, the expanded athletic complex will allow Aquinas to provide more opportunities to our students as well as high school students from the region.”

The new facility will allow Aquinas to host events it previously did not have facilities for, such as high school indoor track and field meets. It will serve as a practice facility for Aquinas’ track, baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, golf, basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, dance and intramural teams, and as a competition venue for Aquinas’ track and field team. Additionally, academic classes will be held in the facility.

Aquinas College and the Aquinas College Foundation raised more than $5.7 million for the Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building, with donations and gifts coming from more than 300 individuals and families. Greg Alksnis ‘71 and his family were the lead donors for the complex, with a gift of $1.5 million.

“It is thanks to the patronage of alumni like the Alksnis’ and the support of the entire Aquinas family that we were able to build this unique and flexible facility,” said Greg Meyer, vice president and executive director of the Aquinas College Foundation. “These gifts are a real testament to the strength of Aquinas’ ongoing initiatives to increase its visibility and continually grow and adapt to the needs of our student body.”

Alksnis, co-owner of Magic Steel Corporation and an Aquinas Trustee Emeritus, was a scholarship athlete at Aquinas. He was a star on the Aquinas golf team and continued to distinguish himself on the links as an amateur throughout his life. An Aquinas College 2006 Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Greg is one of only three golfers to win the “Grand Slam” of the four local major titles.

Alksnis’ wife, Sally, is an athlete in her own right. She has competed in numerous sports, been a runner and body builder, taught archery and shooting, and currently participates in the equestrian sport of dressage.

“As an alumni of Aquinas, I chose to support this particular project because Aquinas made a huge difference in my life – helping me develop as an athlete and also preparing me for the working world,” said Greg Alksnis. “Physical fitness is important to me and my family, and this project has allowed us to demonstrate the importance of athletics while also supporting Aquinas.”

Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building features:
• 200 meter, NCAA-certified track with all of the amenities for track and field events
• Wooden floor court for basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and dance
• Practice areas for baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, golf and intramurals
• Extensive curtaining system will allow for multiple uses simultaneously

Sturrus Sports & Fitness Center opened in November 2010 and includes:
• Reoriented basketball court (with telescopic bleacher seating for 2,000)
• Fitness Center
• AQ Hall of Fame
• Three classrooms
• Main floor NATA-certified Athletic training facility
• Coaching offices (12)
• Large Conference room
• Hospitality Room (Saints Room)
• New main floor locker rooms
• New main floor laundry room
• Additional storage areas

Meyer was joined at the dedication by Aquinas staff members Terry Bocian, athletic director; Paula Meehan, vice president for enrollment and strategic planning; and the building’s name sake and lead donor Greg Alksnis; and Bishop David J. Walkowiak. The dedication also featured a ceremonial passing of the baton around the indoor track between past, present and future runners, and a blessing by Walkowiak.