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New Valley athletic building nears completion

| Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tucked away in the back of the Valley campus, a new building has taken shape and quickly could become a centerpiece for the Vikings.

Valley athletic director Frank Campbell believes the $2 million, 14,000-square-foot athletic and administration building will have a huge impact on sports in the school district.

The building, which sits at the end of Valley Memorial Stadium farthest from Stevenson Boulevard, should be open by the end of July, according to Campbell. That will be in time for when athletes seriously begin to prepare for the fall season.

Roughly one-third of the facility will be a room dedicated solely to wrestling. The rest of the building will feature an extensive weightroom, a pair of batting cages, a study/film room with computers, locker rooms, a concession stand and offices for coaches and administrators, including the district superintendent.

"This means a lot more kids will want to come out and play sports when they see the board is willing to spend money to get the best facilities," Campbell said. "I hope more kids will want to play, and I'll have to buy 100 more uniforms."

The new facility, coupled with the artificial turf that was installed before last football season, the renovations to the grandstands made in the past few years and ample parking, could make Valley a prime candidate to be a neutral WPIAL playoff site for football and soccer, Campbell said. Valley hasn't been asked to play host to neutral WPIAL games in recent years.

Campbell also hopes the improvements could result in bigger crowds at Valley games.

"We want to bring back Friday (football) like it was in the '80s and '90s," Campbell said.

The school district's wrestling program, in particular, will get a big boost from the new building. The Vikings have teams at the varsity, junior varsity, junior high and elementary levels, and all will be welcome to use the wrestling room.

The space is large enough to accommodate two full mats. Previously, the varsity teams practiced in the auxiliary gym in the high school.

"It's always nice to have your own facility, something you can call your own," Valley varsity wrestling coach Steve Ansani said. "It gives the wrestlers a sense of pride. It will be a better atmosphere. You can go full out and not worry about hitting concrete walls."

Ansani said he's planning to start a "wall of fame" in the wrestling room to serve as extra inspiration and reward for his athletes.

The weightroom will built around York free weights and Precor weight machines.

Batting cages for baseball and softball will be placed side by side. The cages can be raised to the ceiling, creating room for other indoor activities, such as sprinting, Campbell said.

A computer room will be available to athletes for homework. Teams also can study film in that area.

The building will house a home locker room for football, soccer and other sports. Previously, the Vikings' locker room was under the home grandstand. The visiting team's locker room has remained under the visitor's grandstand.

The space under the home bleachers will be used as a maintenance warehouse. Previously, that equipment was stored in a rented facility off campus, Campbell said.

There's a concession stand built into one corner of the building. That will give fans a place to buy refreshments at both ends of the field.

The scoreboard is down and most likely will be placed on the front of the new building, Campbell said. He added that the dirt path that passes in front of the building is scheduled to be paved.

"You can't beat this for a high school facility," Campbell said.

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