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Student-athletes with Mayor Muriel Bowser, President Ronald Mason, Athletic Director Patricia Thomas and Trustee Jerome Shelton at the Grand Opening.
Student-athletes with Mayor Muriel Bowser, President Ronald Mason, Athletic Director Patricia Thomas and Trustee Jerome Shelton at the Grand Opening.

Washington, DC – The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Athletics Center, which has been home court for Firebird basketball, and a main venue for sporting events, commencements and various other campus activities for more than 40 years, has completed a long-awaited makeover of its gymnasium. The $1.2 million renovation project scores a game-winning shot by the Mayor and District Council to improve worn facilities at the University's main Van Ness campus, and completes the first phase of an overall $5 million spending plan for athletic complex renovations.

The District-approved funds allow the University to continue upgrading athletic facilities in two separate projects, with two different contractors.  The competitive bid for prime contractor for the replacement of the gym floor was awarded to DC-based WKM Solutions, whose Chief Executive Officer, Wilson Matos, is a UDC graduate.  Quinn Evans Architects designed the new bleachers, which were installed by Consys, Inc. With the completion of these projects, the University will install artificial turf playing fields and new tennis courts, beginning this summer. Quinn Evans is also designing the new synthetic turf playing fields. 

"This modernized and beautiful new gymnasium represents our commitment to revitalizing UDC's campus and ensuring the university is a top choice for DC students," said Mayor Muriel Bowser. "With fantastic spaces like this for our UDC athletes, students, and the broader community, I am confident that we will remain a District of Champions."

"Athletics is an integral part of creating an extraordinary experience for our students, our alumni and our community.  Our  student-athletes  and  fans  deserve  top-notch  facilities,"  UDC  President  Ronald  Mason  said.  "With  the  continued  support  of  the  Mayor  and  Council,  we  are  committed  to  strengthening  the  Firebird nation's athletics program now, and for generations to come.

"The  gymnasium  upgrade  required  the  removal  of  an  old  parquet  wood  floor,  along  with  a  urethane  subfloor that covered the entire gym.  The new hardwood floor covers about 15,000 square feet. All of the floor's logos were hand-painted.  

Newly  installed  bleachers  have  automatic  telescoping  operations  to  allow  them  to  be  easily  opened  or  retracted.  The new configuration provides for individual seats.  A second divider curtain will also be added that will allow the gymnasium to be divided into three sections to accommodate multiple events.

The  gymnasium  makeover  was  completed  last  month,  just  in  time  to  launch  the  Firebirds'  2019-2020 NCAA Division II basketball season. UDC Athletic Director Patricia Thomas says the improvements are part of the University's solution to long-term sponsorship and revenue goals.

"The  renovation  of  the  gym  floor  and  bleachers  is  a  game  changer  for  us  that  brings  new  life  into  our  gymnasium,"  Director  Thomas  said.  "The significant improvements strengthen our ability to recruit outstanding student-athletes and enhance the game day experience for our supporters.  In addition, we now have an outstanding facility for students to participate in recreation and intramural programs."



The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is the nation's only exclusively urban land-grant public Historically Black University (HBCU) and serves the residents of the District of Columbia and the surrounding region. The transdisciplinary research conducted by UDC focuses on areas which increase  urban  sustainability  and  resiliency  in  agriculture,  business,  engineering,  workforce  development, law, social justice, the arts, and sciences.