Regents approve NAU aquatic and tennis complex

Artist's rendering of the Center for Aquatics and Tennis
Artist's rendering of the Center for Aquatics and Tennis
This artist’s rendering offers a southeast view of the Center for Aquatics and Tennis, bordered by the Health and Learning Center at the right of the image.

The Arizona Board of Regents unanimously approved a proposal for a 120,000-square-foot Center for Aquatic and Tennis that will replace the 50,000-square-foot Wall Aquatic Center on Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff campus.

The project, which still requires approval from the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Capital Review, includes 90,000-square-feet for tennis courts along with a recreation field.

The regents OK’d the proposal during their meeting Thursday at Arizona State University.

The $47.5 million project would be funded by system revenue bonds and an existing fee funded by students on the Flagstaff campus. The current aquatic center closed briefly last year in response to life safety issues in the 30-year-old structure, including repairs to overhead lighting and electrical systems. The new structure also will help the university make strides toward Title IX compliance.

The Aquatic and Tennis Complex is expected to earn a “Silver” LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council and will be a significant upgrade to the existing 50,000-square-foot aquatic center for students, and NAU’s swimming, diving and tennis teams. The new facility will continue to host NCAA events and training activities for Olympic athletes from around the world.

The Lumberjack men’s and women’s tennis teams will gain six indoor and six outdoor courts on which to practice and hold matches, space that also will host student and community activities. NAU’s tennis teams currently practice in Sedona and hold matches in Phoenix.

The regents also approved a 50-year partnership between NAU and the Arboretum at Flagstaff to develop 10 acres of land for the Southwest Experimental Garden Array, a genetics-based research project that will provide scientists with feedback on ecological and evolutionary response to climate change.

The 10-garden system was initiated by a $4 million National Science Foundation grant in 2012. The project will provide NAU undergraduate and graduate students with hands-on training in science, ecology, genetics and engineering.

ABOR President Eileen Klein made a presentation regarding the universities’ tuition, fee and billing structures, emphasizing predictability for students. NAU President John Haeger reiterated the university’s strategic goal of offering accessibility and affordability around the state, including the university’s Pledge program as well as multiple options for students through NAU-Yuma, NAU-Yavapai, Extended Campuses and Personalized Learning.

Public discussions regarding tuition and fees will be scheduled in the coming months. The regents will vote on tuition and mandatory fees at the next scheduled meeting set for April 3 and 4 at the University of Arizona.

The regents also unveiled the development of a research website designed to improve collaboration among researchers and private industry. The Elsevier’s SciVal Experts is an online database created in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, providing real-time research NAU, ASU and UA and to the teams of experts who are leading the initiatives. The site is meant to attract research dollars and help boost the state’s economy.