PDS reveals future plans for Field House

Katie Simons, Staff Writer

From the pristine new interior of Colross, to the redesigned signage at the school’s entrance, it is obvious that Princeton Day School is making changes. These changes are far from over, though, according to Head of School Paul Stellato. Mr. Stellato, along with the Board of Trustees, Director of Advancement Kathy Schulte, and Director of Athletic Programs Tim Williams are all working together on one of the biggest projects at PDS to date: the construction of a field house.

A game of tennis at PDS in the middle of the winter? Want a game of squash without having to walk down to Pretty Brook? Or how about running on an indoor track while the snow lies deep outside?

It is a bit early to start booking courts now, but if all goes according to plan, PDS may be inaugurating a field house before current Middle Schoolers graduate in 2019.

As the plans stand now, the Field House would contain three multipurpose courts for various sports, such as tennis, basketball, and volleyball, each separated by nets and surrounded by an exercise track. The facility would connect to the McGraw Ice Rink through a proposed squash wing, which would house three squash courts, offices, locker rooms, and concession stands, according to Mr. Williams and Ms. Schulte. Together the ice rink, squash wing, and Field House would comprise a yet unnamed 50,000 square foot athletic center. Two separate architecture firms have been consulted so far on the project.

The idea of constructing a field house dates back to 2008. “[The Board and I] saw programs were growing, but we had an insufficient amount of space [for them]. We looked at areas with real need and found processes to address them,” said Mr. Stellato, adding that these new athletic facilities would be “the perfect way to [maximize and] utilize our 120 beautiful acres.”

“The outdoor facilities here [at PDS] are second to none; … the [addition of a] field house would greatly expand indoor training and competition options … especially in winter months,” said Mr. Williams. The Field House would enable PDS to provide additional space for athletic activities, help retain and attract scholar athletes, promote fitness, and enrich the community experience. The PDS squash team, for example, currently practices and plays its matches off-site. “[The team] could play matches at school; it would be a lot more convenient,” said junior Coby Gibson. Associate Director of Advancement Katie Long added that Middle School teams would also have more practice time and would not have to share space once the Field House is completed.

Breaking ground, however, is at least four years away since licensing and permits take time to secure. Additionally, funds still need to be raised. “We hope to build an athletic center … we have plans for this facility but we are not moving forward with construction of this facility until we raise the funds necessary to pay for it,” explained Ms. Schulte, adding, “We are going through the permitting process to be ready to build which takes between 18 months to two years. When we get to a significant point with funds raised we will announce [our progress].”

A major hope for the Field House is that it will be a common space that the whole community can use. Mr. Stellato envisions that it will “serve as a gathering space for the entire school.” Ms. Schulte added, “The exciting piece about the athletic center is that every student will have an opportunity to use it—from the smallest Lower Schoolers to seniors in the Upper School. It will be a place for students to compete athletically, cheer each other on, and build community—to be all together under one roof and also provide top athletic facilities for our student athletes.”