The back of Tudor Fieldhouse — currently home to an empty pool, abandoned racquetball courts and curiously, the kinesiology department — is set to undergo a facelift. On Friday, Rice Athletics announced a $4 million project which will remake the old pool and recreation center into new space for four of Rice’s varsity teams.
The renovations are scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the 2017-18 school year and are funded by private donations and university support. The project will transform the abandoned pool, which was the home of Rice’s swim team until the completion of the Rice Aquatic Center in 2009, into a two-story complex.
The first floor will consist of locker rooms, a meeting room and lounge spaces for the golf, track and field, cross country and soccer teams. Currently, the track, cross country and golf teams do not have designated locker rooms or teams rooms on campus. They are forced to share space with other teams and non-varsity athletes.
There will also be a new south entrance to Tudor Fieldhouse that will provide easier access to the Wendel D. Ley Track and Holloway Field. For now, the second floor will remain out of use and will be reserved for future enhancements.
Junior cross country and track runner Wes Hungbui said he expects the new team spaces will help facilitate team chemistry.
“It’ll be easier to build team culture,” Hungbui said. “That’s something that’s really important in sports, having that bond with your teammates.”
In addition to the pool, the original men’s locker room will be modified to connect the newly transformed space to the front of Tudor Fieldhouse, while the old racquetball courts will be repurposed.
The renovation will be the latest upgrade to Tudor, which was last renovated in 2008. At that time, the back of the building was left untouched. According to a statement from Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard, the upgrade is a testament to Rice’s devotion to its athletic program.
"This latest renovation to our facilities is another example of our continuing commitment to each of our more than 350 student-athletes to build a championship environment," Karlgaard said.
The proposed changes are the latest in a series of renovations of Rice’s athletic facilities. Most recently in 2016, the school made three major upgrades. It added a new press box, team space and bleachers to the Wendel D. Ley Track and Holloway Field; created a sports medicine center at Reckling Park; and, most notably, built the $31.5 million Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center at Rice Stadium. According to Rice Athletics, the school has devoted over $100 million to building and renovating its athletic facilities since 2008.
As a member of the cross country and track teams, Hungbui said he does not always get much support from fans at competitions. He said it means a lot to him that the university is spending money on his teams because it shows that the school cares about his and his team’s success.
“I think it’s really important,” Hungbui said. “We know that Rice always has our back, but having this is a concrete symbol of that. It inspires us to do better.”