Enthusiasm Greets Details of New Indoor Sports Facility at AIT Despite the freezing conditions and the harshness of the budget earlier that day, more than 60 people turned up at AIT on Tuesday evening to hear details of the institute’s new indoor sports facility.
Representatives of various soccer, athletics, rugby and GAA clubs and sporting bodies were amongst those in attendance to hear AIT President, Prof. Ciarán Ó Catháin, outline the ambitious plans for the facility. The reaction from those present was overwhelmingly positive to the development. The 12,000m2 building comprises three distinct areas: a 6-lane athletics arena, a multi-sport arena, and an outdoor stand to serve the existing athletics track. In addition, the complex will house changing room facilities, a gymnasium, high-performance training rooms, a recovery suite, medical centre and support rooms. According to Prof. Ó Catháin, “This is a major boost to the educational and sporting infrastructure in the region. It will help fulfil our ambition to be a college of choice, and also highlights the central role that AIT plays in the community. This facility will be available not just to our own students and staff, but also to the wider Midlands community.” He was confident, he said, “that it will prove particularly attractive to athletes competing on the national and international stage. With the proximity of Athlone to several airports, this will be a significant factor in positioning Ireland and the Midlands as a training base for Olympians competing in London 2012.” The indoor athletics track and field auditorium comprises a 200m-banked running track, spectator seating for 1,500 persons, as well as an elevated athlete warm-up area with an 80m sprint track. The separate multipurpose indoor sports auditorium will cater for basketball, futsal; as well as volleyball, badminton and multiple other sports. It too will have spectator seating for 1,500 persons, which can be increased to 3,500 spectators in concert setting. AIT’s Sport and Recreation Manager, Gordon Brett, noted that: “The institute is eager to promote the message of a healthy lifestyle and to increase the number of people regularly participating in sporting activity. We have seen how initiatives such as Fit4Life have had a big impact and we anticipate that the new indoor facilities will benefit elite athletes and sports people, as well as the more casual participant.” The building will primarily comprise a palette of three high quality materials: Portland concrete panel (similar to Athlone Civic Centre), green copper panel and thermally broken, solar glare-reducing double glazing. The building incorporates all accepted passive and sustainable technology, including rainwater harvesting and high degrees of insulation. The main athletics arena is naturally lit to reduce running costs, with lights used rarely. The auditoria are naturally ventilated, and the preferred ambient temperature of a sports centre –16 degrees – facilitates the lowest possible energy use for a building of this type. The building will be fully accessible for persons with disabilities. Construction work will commence in the new year, with the project due for completion by the end of 2011. Further information is available at www.ait.ie/campus.