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Cole reconstruction could leave Maryland activities displaced | News

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Cole reconstruction could leave Maryland activities displaced
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WUSA9) -- Cole's fate is expected Friday although Maryland students say they'll be upset if any changes are approved.

Melissa Seitz is a junior journalism major who enjoys working out at Cole Field House. After all, Cole is free to walk in daily. She runs steps and around the main concourse that surrounds what was formerly the home court of Maryland basketball.

Instead of a basketball court, when Seitz looks down the bowl of red seats she sees a green turf carpet. That's where thousands of students have enjoyed playing field sports during the winter months. Intramural and club sports teams have played on the field courtesy of Campus Recreation Services.

The department was handed the reigns of Cole from the athletics department in 2002, when the basketball team moved to the Comcast Center (now Xfinity Center). You don't have to be a Division I athlete to play sports in college thanks Campus Recreation. That option during the winter may soon change if the reigns are handed back.

The full University of Maryland Board of Regents will meet Friday to debate the $155 million plan to repurpose Cole Field House. A final vote could turn the former basketball arena into an indoor football practice facility.

The Terrapin Performance Center plan calls for the inside of Cole to be gutted and rebuilt with a field, new offices and an academic center. According to the Washington Post, construction would begin in December 2015 and a phase would be complete by April 2017.

"I'm a lifelong Terp so I certainly have nostalgia for Cole." Mary Kate Sullivan said. "There are a lot of people that come in and out of Cole every day not just Campus Recreation; Veteran Student Life is one, orientation, education offices and some other offices that run out of there. And they're in there 40 hours a week...What about those other offices?"

Jay Gilchrist says the plan will likely work itself out.

Gilchrist has for a long time understood the value allowing all students to play sports in college.

"Any one weekend we could have 25 club teams traveling anywhere from North Carolina to New York to Columbus. With the Big Ten, it's only going to get worse." Gilchrist said.

"With so many students coming out of youth sports programs that they're used to playing regularly, I've seen the sport club program grow tremendously over the last 10 years."

Gilchrist, the director of Campus Recreation Services, says his department allocates use of Cole for events crab feasts to homecoming comedy shows to those outside of the university including cheer and wrestling tournaments.

He says he believes that accommodations will be discussed about the possibility of opening the Terrapin Performance Center to intramural and club sports during the later hours of the day but expects a lot of scrambling during the construction period.


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