Pomona College begins construction of new athletic facility to replace Rains Center

Students walk on a sidewalk surrounded by a football field and a building called the "Rains Center".
Pomona College hopes to finish construction of the new athletic facility by fall 2022. (Chloe Ortiz • The Student Life)

A new athletic facility is currently being built to replace Pomona College’s Rains Center for Sport and Recreation, according to an email sent out to Pomona students Jan. 25 from President G. Gabrielle Starr and vice presidents.

While the original plan was to begin construction on the building in 2020, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the process by nine months. The building is now set to be completed by the fall 2022 semester.

Despite setbacks, Pomona administration decided to begin construction while students are off campus in order “to complete the most disruptive aspects of construction — demolition, grading and assembly of structural steel — at a time when few people will be on our campus,” according to the Jan. 25 email.

In the interim, the building will not be available to students. However, Pomona-Pitzer Athletic Director Miriam Merrill said via email that the college will come up with alternatives for student recreation.

“We have a well-thought out plan of resources and facilities to support students’ needs in creative ways during the construction period, although we will continue to adapt as needed due to COVID-19 restrictions, etc,” Merrill said.

The administration said in its Jan. 25 email it was able to “negotiate reduced prices, saving the college money relative to the initial contract,” because of rebidding the construction project after its initial 2020 delay. 

Last year, when the plans for the new building were announced, students questioned the allocation of funds. Sophia West PO ’22 said that there are “more pressing matters, such as better mental health resources.”

Alaina Woo PO ‘17, head coach of Pomona-Pitzer women’s basketball, noted that the new facility will especially increase accessibility for all students at Pomona, including non-athlete students and community members.

“I am particularly looking forward to the variety of options that the new building will offer,” she said via email. “From extra basketball courts to additional weight training spaces, there will be greater access and capacity for the different interests of our community.”

The new center will mitigate capacity issues that troubled Rains, such as weight rooms being too full later in the day. As weight rooms were prioritized for varsity athletes, the additional spaces in the new space will allow for more non-athletes to use the facilities.

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