Athletic Complex Plans Are Delayed; No Construction Scheduled Until 1980

Members of the incoming freshman class will not get a chance to use the long-awaited athletic complex that has been in the planning stage for four years, according to Robert B. Watson '37, director of Athletics--at least not before they graduate.

"Right now, we are going back to the drawing board," Watson said last week. "I think a realistic goal might be six or seven years."

The new complex was originally planned for the mid-1970s, and was to replace and renovate most of Harvard's antiquated facilities--many of which date back to the late twenties and early thirties. Kallman and McKinnell, a Boston architectural firm, surveyed University and community needs and designed a multi-phase program intended to fulfill recreational needs for at least 50 years.

Informal estimates of the cost of the original master plan range from $22 to $42 million. "We immediately knew that such numbers were not reasonable," Watson said. "It was a beautiful plan, but we probably couldn't have completed Phase I." Ten to twelve million dollars have been cited as more reasonable numbers.

Kallman and McKinnell has been recalled to help modify and make more specific the master plan, which will now call for considerably more renovation than replacement. "It's a matter of cutting things down to what we really need," Watson said.


What is really needed, apparently, is more floor space and more water. Intercollegiate basketball, wrestling and fencing will be moved across the river to new buildings at Soldiers Field, freeing the IAB for intramurals. Don Gambril, big-time, big-thinking swimming coach, requested an Olympic pool in the planned complex, but he has departed for Alabama, and the new pool has been moved on the charts to Observatory Hill, primarily for the use of Radcliffe residents and graduate students.

The IAB pool is considered an inferior collegiate facility because it has only six lanes, is too shallow for diving competition and is only 25 meters long (as compared to the Olympic 50 meters). Instead of building a new pool, the current one will probably be deepened.

Among the other structures eliminated from planning maps is a new hockey rink with greater seating capacity than tiny Watson Rink. Dillon Field House is one of the old buildings to be resurrected. Like the IAB and Hemenway Gymnasium, it will be renovated.

"There can't be a great emphasis on intercollegiate sports." Watson said when asked if a "basketball palace" was being planned. "We have to consider the possibility that in 25 years, there may be no intercollegiate sports at all. We don't want to get stuck with a useless facility. We have been juggling several different interests, and have been talking to the Planning Commission, the graduate schools, a whole host of people. We'll have to satisfy all of them before we'll move ahead."

Watson expressed the hope that placing the new pool at Radcliffe will help restore some of its lost popularity.

The immediate task for the Athletic Department is refining the master plan to a price and design acceptable to the Corporation. Once a plan is approved, the full price tag--including endowment for maintenance--must be raised before construction starts. Fund raising for special projects is usually restrieted to lists of potential donors drawn up by the Development Office--in this case, mostly people interested in Harvard athletics who would not ordinarily give to Harvard.

Charles D. Thompson '48, Development Officer for Alumni Affairs and Development, agreed with Watson's gloomy timetable. "Everyone knows the current facilities are antiquated. But first things first. We've got the Kennedy School of Government, East Asian Studies, a lot of projects crying out for funding." Thompson said last week. The new athletic plant is pretty far down the list. I think we are several years away at best."

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