Updated: April 1, 2010 at 12:00 am
Air Force has taken another step toward making its proposed indoor athletic facility a reality.
And it’s a really, really big step.
The academy announced Thursday that 1965 graduate Bart Holaday and his wife, Lynn, committed $5 million toward the construction of the facility. It's the largest gift from a graduate to the academy in the its history.
The USAFA Endowment, which is spearheading fundraising for the project, now has raised approximately $14.5 million of the estimated $16 million it will need, according to Mark Hille, vice president of development for the endowment.
“We’re definitely within striking distance,” Hille said. “We’re using this momentum (from the Holadays’ donation) to push us to the goal line by this time next year."
The Holadays’ record gift, which was given in February, was worth even more than $5 million. According to Hille, it sparked an additional $6 million in fundraising within a few days.
“When a gift like the gift from the Holadays is made, a lot of interesting things happen and a lot of people get involved,” said Hille, who declined to discuss the specifics of the “challenge gifts” that immediately followed the Holadays’ donation.
Construction on the building – which will be located just north of the Falcon Athletic Center – will begin this summer, and the facility could be completed by early 2011.
The 92,000 square-foot complex will house a regulation-sized field that can accommodate football, lacrosse and soccer – the academy’s current indoor space in the Falcon Athletic Center is not big enough for the football team to conduct full-field drills. And it will allow the indoor track team to have the Falcon Athletic Center to itself during its season.
The facility – which football coach Troy Calhoun has campaigned for since shortly after his arrival – also will help Air Force keep up with its rivals. Both Army and Navy have indoor training facilities for athletics as do six of the other eight schools in Air Force's Mountain West Conference.
Cannon Design, out of Washington, D.C., and G.E. Johnson, a Colorado Springs-based construction firm, is the design-build team for the project. The lead designer, W. Kenneth Wiseman, designed the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and was the design principal for the Richmond Olympic Oval used in the recently completed 2010 Winter Games. Hille said Wiseman carried some of the design ideas from the oval – such as use of natural light – to the academy project.
In a release from the academy was a statement from Bart Holaday about the donation:
“My experiences at the academy provided the foundation that I built my life upon: integrity, trust, hard work, persistence, and loyalty. The academy emphasized the profound importance of sacrifice and service, inspiring me to support others in reaching their full potential. Lynn and I hope that this new facility will, in turn, inspire others to give back to the institution that gave so much to the two of us.”