Caitlin Doherty ’26
Following the fall 2023 Board of Trustees meetings, on Wednesday, Oct. 28, President Berger-Sweeney announced the Board’s unanimous approval of the college’s plan to expand the George M. Ferris Athletic Center. The project is estimated to cost $30.1 million, and construction is set to begin at the end of this year. The plans for the addition include a cardio center, weight room, recreational basketball court, student common spaces and squash courts. The administration’s aim with this expansion is to upgrade outdated athletic facilities and to further athletic and wellness opportunities for all students.
Since it was built and officially opened in 1968, the athletic center has received very few renovations or additions. Trinity athletes and coaches have been requesting updated facilities for years, and in an effort to appeal to the entire school community, many of the rooms and fitness centers within the planned expansion will be open to all students, rather than being restricted to certain athletic programs. A key element of the expansion is seven new squash courts and a large audience space for Trinity’s most successful sports program. The space will also be available for sports-based community programs, including Capitol Squash, which provides squash lessons and academic support to youth in Hartford. In August 2023, the Frog Hollow Neighborhood Revitalization Zone wrote a letter in support of Trinity’s application to build the space to Chair Utick of the Hartford Department of Planning and Zoning. “Trinity College has been a good neighbor within the Frog Hollow community that welcomes residents on campus, maintains their properties, partners on community projects and provides programming for younger residents, especially during the summer months,” wrote Marcus Ordoñez, Rhodee Gine and Carey Shea, co-chairs of the coalition.
The proposal for the expansion, including a 647 page application, was heard before Hartford’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The hearing deadline closed on Oct. 17, with President Berger-Sweeney’s announcement released the next day. Fundraising efforts are ongoing, with “additional naming opportunities” mentioned in the President’s email to the school community. In a statement from the College, Director of Athletics and Physical Education Drew Galbraith states, “The new wellness and recreation center will have an impact on almost every member of our community. We are thrilled to move forward with construction while we work with alumni and friends of Trinity to complete the fundraising for this transformational new space.”
The announcement of the $30.1 million project follows the recent complete renovation of Mather Dining Hall and construction across campus as heating and cooling systems were updated. Many student organizations and offices across campus additionally received severe funding cuts this fall. “And why can we not spend some of that money to make the campus more accessible to disabled students?” asked one comment on Trinity’s Instagram post sharing the news.
Quoted in the college’s announcement article, co-chair of the Athletics Campaign Committee Trustee Peter S. Duncan ’81, P’13, ’14 reflected, “We are so appreciative of the enthusiasm from alumni and friends of Trinity for creating a building that supports so many facets of the student experience. In addition to meeting programmatic needs of the Wellness Curriculum, this building is a prominent example of Trinity’s investment in spaces that impact the entire student body.” College administration is expectant that construction on the $30.1 million expansion of Ferris Athletic Center will be complete by June of 2025.