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.