Special to Mustang News
January is recruitment season, and coaches across the NCAA spectrum are scrambling to woo the most promising student athletes. Cal Poly Athletics officials are hoping recent upgrades to the 53-year-old Mott Athletics Center (MAC) will help coax candidates away from other schools with higher-quality amenities.
Renovations to the MAC include new training equipment, a new strength and conditioning coach, improved lighting, new surfaces and paint, all adding up to roughly $500,000 — made possible by private donations — according to a Jan. 15 press release and email to students from Athletics Director Don Oberhelman. In addition, a new high-definition video scoreboard will be added this year. Though a new event center designed to host sporting events is currently in the planning stages, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said he was committed to investments currently being made to the MAC.
“We will be using the Mott Athletics Center as our main events center for 7 to 10 years,” Armstrong said in a statement. “Moreover, we will continue to use it for decades. So, independent of multiple futures, Mott Athletics Center’s renovation is very important.”
Cal Poly has commissioned a program management firm to conduct a feasibility study for a new event stadium that could potentially be coupled with a hotel and conference center, according to Armstrong.
In addition, a separate architecture firm has been contracted to make additions to Alex G. Spanos Stadium that will include a new high-definition video scoreboard, similar to the one that will be built in the MAC, according to a principal architect with the DLR Group. Neither plan has moved into the budgeting phase.
Oberhelman said Cal Poly’s athletics programs can’t wait for the changes to the MAC to stay competitive with other universities that already have state-of-the-art facilities.
“Ten years is a long time, and if by that time we haven’t made investments in our current facility, our programs will all have suffered,” Oberhelman said. “The life of those video scoreboards probably isn’t even that long.”
Bringing fresh blood into Cal Poly Athletics is a primary concern when competing against schools with more advanced facilities. Men’s basketball head coach Joe Callero said he welcomed the upgrades, but worries they won’t be enough to keep Cal Poly competitive.
“I have been here five years,” Callero said. “When I came here, I saw a gorgeous community and a world-class university, and when you look at the totality of the college, the athletic facility doesn’t seem to be keeping up. Sometimes you’ll see athletes doing lunges down the halls just because there isn’t enough space to do it elsewhere.”
Oberhelman said he has met with Armstrong on plans for upgrades to Cal Poly’s baseball field, Baggett Stadium, as well. He hopes upgrades will allow a bid to host NCAA regionals at the stadium, since it currently does not meet clubhouse and space requirements for visiting teams.
“Right now, we can’t make a bid with any sort of confidence that we would even be considered, because we’re behind on those requirements,” Oberhelman said. “Our baseball program is in the top 25 and we need to keep them there. I think it’s a necessary investment.”
While Armstrong and Oberhelman have said these upgrades would be accomplished partially through private donations, all of this is being requested at a time when the CSU is cutting graduating degree requirements and Cal Poly still faces budget constraints.