It was a 2-for-1 special Wednesday morning at the Manoa lower campus.
Two brand-new facilities upgrades received Native Hawaiian blessings and dedications essentially at the same time (they were back-to-back). Hawaii baseball got its new locker room — re-branded a clubhouse — at Les Murakami Stadium, and the UH basketball teams can say their Gym II practice facility is officially open for business.
— Brian McInnis (@Brian_McInnis) January 9, 2019
The upgrades are courtesy of the state legislature, which approved money totaling $11.6 million for the two projects in the fiscal year 2016. (That includes the Gym I overhaul primarily for the UH volleyball teams that is just getting underway — $10M for the two gyms and $1.6M for the baseball clubhouse.)
They were the first renovations of that magnitude to the gym and LMS locker room facilities built in 1981 and 1984, respectively.
UH athletic director David Matlin had plenty to smile about. Per UH, the projects were finished on time and on budget.
“It’s an exciting day. I’m very grateful, because there’s so many hands in this, so many unsung heroes, took so many people to get this done,” UH athletic director David Matlin said.
As to the question of how the upgrades address UH’s place in facilities battles with their peers, and past criticisms of shortcomings, Matlin replied, “I think it says we’re at a really good place. I think some of those people might still say that, but it’s not reality. I think you come here, the appreciation for getting us to the next level, from a safety perspective, from a recruiting perspective, and just to be more competitive, is important. There’s been a lot of positives.”
The baseball upgrade was interesting, in that in required construction of walls to enclose an area that was previously open to the elements.
“I’ll be candid, when we were first talking about it, I didn’t know how practical it would be. But the good thing is I’m not an architect or construction person. It actually works really well. The planning, even from the dugout, it flows better (than to the old locker room). Even the showers being redone and all that, that’s huge.”
The lockers are in formation similar to a baseball diamond. There’s four overhead TVs (surrounding a bright overhead illuminated “H”) for players on various sides of the room to have a vantage point.
Baseball coach Mike Trapasso was gleaming nearly as much as the new lockers, which are akin to the ones installed for the UH football locker room upgrade of a few years ago. Players moved into their new digs on Monday, well in time for the Feb. 15 season opener vs. Portland.
Trapasso thanked upper campus and the legislature, as well as Elite Pacific Construction, which he credited for doing a meticulous and passionate job.
“This clubhouse will have a lasting and direct impact on the college experience of our student-athletes,” Trapasso said. “This will allow our players to be in an environment where they can go out and pursue greatness, on the field, in the classroom and the community. And that’s exciting.
“I’ve already had several people say, ‘how many wins is this room going to equate to?’ And the the truth is a clubhouse like this isn’t going to throw a pitch, swing a bat. But it will allow us to recruit great players who can do those things.”
Here’s how the previous locker room (located down the hall) looks:
Basketball coaches Eran Ganot and Laura Beeman echoed Trapasso’s sentiments for their sports when they spoke at the Gym II dedication.
For more on the bells and whistles of the new Gym II, here’s a post from its soft launch in mid-December. The teams have practiced in it for about the last two weeks. TCU coach Jamie Dixon, a former UH assistant, recently called it “one of the best collegiate practice facilities in the nation” when he was here for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
Former UH players Phil Martin, Ryne Holliday and Kalia McGee were on hand for the dedication and appeared impressed.
UH touted the “net-zero” energy demands of the new gyms, even with air conditioning, because of wattage generated by PV panels on the rooftop.
Matlin said that a replacement of the track at T.C. Ching Athletic Complex and the next phase of work on Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium (including a locker room) are the next facilities improvements in line.
Other photos from today: