Along with providing a quality education to its students, TU's leadership is committed to competing with the best NCAA Division II schools and presenting a variety of athletic program options to its students. On average, 40 percent of TU students are involved in recreation, wellness and/or athletic programs. Coupled with the fact TU incurred only a few losses at the hands of much larger rivals, that led the university to move forward with the demolition of a scrap yard and construction of a new athletic complex.
In May 2012, the university opened the new $8.5-million multipurpose sports and recreation complex, coined "The Heminger Center." The center was named after its primary funders, Gary and Jane Heminger, who have made multiple contributions to the university. Gary Heminger is a native of Tiffin and serves as president and CEO of Marathon Petroleum Corporation. He earned his undergraduate degree from TU in 1976 and has been part of the board of trustees since 1991 and has acted as chairman since 1996.
The building's construction involved nothing short of a complete transformation from junkyard to state-of-the-art sports complex.
Preparation for transformation
The former scrap yard served as an ideal location for the project due to its proximity to campus. However, the site presented many challenges. The three-acre site was classified as a brownfield, requiring an extensive environmental remediation program. At its inception, the remediation program seemed fairly routine.
However, it was made more comprehensive after residuals from an early 20th century coal gasification plant were discovered. This delayed construction of the indoor practice wing until after the track building and connector were already completed.
The remediation program also included removal of former buildings, which included materials containing asbestos, and 16,000 tons of impacted soil. Clean soil backfill was placed at the site to provide a 2-foot clean soil layer in the green spaces. Installation of engineering controls, including building slabs, asphalt and concrete pavement, was necessary to eliminate a direct contact pathway.
To add to the site preparation, a sub-slab depressurization system and a vapor intrusion barrier were installed beneath the east field house to address the vapor intrusion pathway. Engineers also provided an environmental covenant to prevent contact with soil below 2 feet, prohibit construction of basements and prohibit extraction of groundwater.
With the assistance of government grants, the environmental cleanup and site preparation was complete in seven years. Building value into the construction process URS Corporation, based in Cleveland, Ohio, was hired to design the center.
The earliest plans were based on conventional construction. However, engineers decided to construct two wings around a Butler ManufacturingT fully integrated metal building system. This system included a long-span structural framing, standing-seam metal roof system and a metal wall panel system accented with traditional sidewall material accents and glazing.
The two-story, 16,000-square-foot connector building featured conventional steel framing and other materials. Clouse Construction, based in New Riegel, Ohio, served as the Butler BuilderR for the wing buildings and selected the MR-24 standing-seam metal roof for its low maintenance costs.
The connector portion subdivides into first floor locker rooms, offices, an athletic training room, a laundry facility, classrooms, a lobby/reception space, a student lounge and concessions. The second floor includes a multipurpose room, fixed grandstands for 250 spectators and a viewing mezzanine overlooking the indoor track.
The 38,000-square-foot multisport wing houses a 200-meter track and four courts adaptable for basketball, volleyball or tennis. The other wing, a 58,000-square-foot indoor practice facility, features an artificial turf field for the football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball programs.
To maximize use of the space, the university is also using the complex for commencements and extends its availability to local schools, community groups, conferences, trade shows and other activities that may benefit from the space.
Designed with sustainability in mind
URS Corporation oversaw the challenging environmental cleanup of the brownfield site, as well as the architectural design. The architects incorporated many energy-saving and green features into the center.
The metal buildings feature additional insulation with reinforced vinyl facing for maximum resistance to the elements. In addition, energyefficient fluorescent lighting, controlled by timers with override capability, illuminates the large wings. Compact fixtures controlled by occupancy sensors were installed in the restrooms, offices and other small spaces.
Four air rotation units control the environment in the Heminger Center, and the connector portion is served by rooftop gas/electric units, controlled by an energy management system. Variable air volume serves as the air distribution, and low-flow plumbing fixtures perpetuate the emphasis on sustainable design.
Students, community rally around new facility At its inception, university leadership hoped the center would boost general enrollment, improve athletic recruitment and performance, and increase alumni support. To date, it has provided significant improvement in all facets.
In just one year, enrollment grew from 4,940 students to 6,186 students-a 38 percent increase. With sports a popular part of campus life at Tiffin University, the new center certainly enhances that image and adds opportunities to market TU's excellent degree programs.
The center was instrumental in helping TU acquire football coach Gary Goff to fully complement its new sports center. Goff, a successful offensive coordinator at larger schools, joined the university as head football coach while the Heminger Center was under construction. He recognized how the center could aid him in not only recruiting star players but also increasing practice time and skills during the winter season.
Goff focused on recruiting Ohio natives for the 2012 football season, as they are most familiar with TU and have family nearby. University leadership also foresees the track and lacrosse programs gaining ground, along with participation in intramurals, due to the improved facilities.
In terms of alumni support, the Heminger Center was the centerpiece of "Share the Pride. Build on Tradition-A Campaign for Tiffin University," a $12 million capital campaign that eventually raised more than $13 million. The completion of the center is credited with instilling momentum in the campaign that resulted in donations far exceeding TU's goal.
The opening of the Heminger Center is the final component of the University's nine-year quest to transform the former scrap yard into university use. TU partnered with federal, state and local governments and agencies to bring more than $30 million in enhancements to the Tiffin community.
At its ribbon-cutting ceremony in May 2012, the Hemingers and their family designated the facility as a tribute to their parents, Glen and Doris Heminger and John and Virginia Alleman, their brothers and sisters, and the community of Tiffin, Ohio. They hoped it would act as the center of the pursuit for wellness, health and friendship. It has certainly served that purpose for the students and staff at TU and will continue to be a source of pride and tradition for years to come.
has been the training manager for Butler Manufacturing for 15 years and is responsible for product, builder management and sales training. He has also served as project services manager for the roof division of Butler, managing a number of large and complex retrofit roof projects. For additional information, please visit www.butlermfg.com.