Allegheny’s David V. Wise Sport & Fitness Center Gets a New Look

A five-month renovation has transformed the entrance to the David V. Wise Sport & Fitness Center from a noisy, sweaty workout area into an open lobby with comfortable seating and space that one day might become the home of the Allegheny College Athletic Hall of Fame.

The lobby of the facility for more than a decade has been a crowded space where exercisers have pounded away on the treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes.

“It was odd for them to be on display for the people who were walking into the building. As you entered, your first impression was seeing a bunch of people huffing and puffing and sweating,” said William Ross, Allegheny’s athletic director.

That has now been remedied. The cardio equipment — eight treadmills, 10 ellipticals, and seven stationary bikes — has been moved to a new space on the facility’s second floor where users can admire the nearby wooded areas while gazing out of windows or watch programming on two televisions.

Space was made for the cardio machines and a new first-floor alternate weight training room by renovating what were two racquetball courts. A first-floor room once used for alternate weight training will be converted into a racquetball court in the coming months, Ross said. The existing weight-training room used primarily by varsity athletes on the first floor remains as is, he said.

This all came about because there was a space crunch created six years ago when the NCAA allowed Division III athletes to train with a certified strength and conditioning coach during the off-season. Allegheny subsequently hired a director of peak performance and fitness, and teams started to occupy the weight room daily throughout the academic year, Ross said. “It has created huge crowds, especially in the weight rooms since we now have 23 varsity sports,” said Ross.

“The whole idea was to provide an adequate weight-training room for other non-varsity athlete users of the building, get the users of the cardio equipment out of display for building visitors, and to recover the lobby,” said Ross.

“It is my vision that someday this expansive lobby space can house our Athletic Hall of Fame. We have a very rich tradition, and we need to get that on display,” he said.

During the 231 days that the College is in session, the Wise Center logs more than 144,000 visitors, said Ross. The facility also includes a 1,200-seat performance arena, a sports forum known as the “Blue Courts,” a 210-meter elevated jogging track, and the Mellon Pool. The Wise Center opened in 1997.

The College funded the latest renovation, and the Allegheny Student Government committed a large sum of money to purchase new weight-training equipment, said Ross. “We are very thankful for the partnership with the student government on this project,” he said.

The Wise Center renovation follows other improvements in athletic facilities during the past year, including a new turf field, an updated athletic training facility, a new equipment room and improved grass playing surfaces at the Robertson Athletic Complex. Two new varsity sports have also been added: men’s lacrosse and women’s field hockey. There is currently a fundraising effort underway to make improvements at the baseball facility, including a new artificial playing surface, new grandstands and dugouts, said Ross.