Dear Pomona College Community:
We are writing with good news: Construction of the new athletics, recreation and wellness center will begin in February, with completion expected in time for the Fall 2022 semester.
The rebuilt and expanded facility will replace the Rains Center for Sport and Recreation, creating an up-to-date center that matches the excellence of our Pomona-Pitzer athletics program while boosting health and wellness for all members of our community.
The need for a revitalized center has been clear for years. Last spring, however, as the pandemic forced the evacuation of students from campus, we decided to delay the start of construction in the face of the unfolding crisis.
Moving forward this semester allows us to complete the most disruptive aspects of construction—demolition, grading and assembly of structural steel—at a time when few people will be on our campus. This will reduce the impact of noise, vibration, dust and truck traffic, and also will reduce the costs of mitigation steps. When we return to normal operation in the fall, we can proceed with the less disruptive aspects of the work.
By rebidding the project after the delay, we were able to negotiate reduced prices, saving the College money relative to the initial contract. At the same time, we are benefitting from generous gifts that allow us to proceed with the project without affecting our operating budget.
We are incredibly grateful to Ranney ’60 and Priscilla Draper, Libby Gates MacPhee ’86, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the many other friends of Pomona whose early and generous partnership and support has allowed us to begin construction on this vital facility.
The new facility will benefit all members of our community and help make real the wellness component of our Strategic Vision.
In addition to supporting more than 450 varsity athletes, the building’s expanded and updated spaces will serve more than 900 intramural athletes, 550 club athletes and student physical education classes, as well as fitness and recreation programming for students, faculty and staff for both colleges.
The Rains Center has been home to Sagehen Athletics and served as the campus recreation and fitness center since it was built in 1989. But until the pandemic temporarily closed campus, more people than ever were using it. Simply put, we had outgrown the facility, and the new one will be equipped to serve all members of our community.
The new center will include a larger recreational fitness area, with additional space for cardio workouts, and studio space available for fitness classes will be doubled.
In addition to a general-use weight room, there will be a dedicated varsity weight room. Locker rooms will be redesigned to provide sufficient space for the groups that use them, with separate facilities for faculty and staff in addition to varsity teams.
The men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams and women’s varsity volleyball team will continue to play in the facility, with Voelkel Gym remaining largely intact and a new two-court practice and recreational gym added above the fitness area.
Plans also include athletic training and equipment storage areas, three new team meeting rooms and individual offices for coaches and administrative staff.
With its location at 220 E. 6th Street, where busy campus walkways meet, the new building’s main entrance will provide a campus focal point, with an expansive arrival lobby and a more prominent display for the athletic Hall of Fame.
The new facility will do more than advance the proud history of Sagehen Athletics; it comes at a time of growing recognition of the urgent need for wellness. Our aim is for this new center to benefit the mental and physical well-being of all students, faculty and staff.
G. Gabrielle Starr, president
Robert Gaines, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college
Miriam Merrill, chair of physical education
Maria Watson, vice president for advancement