WATTS the holdup?

The Vindicator (Youngstown)


Currently under construction, the Watts Center, an indoor athletic-training facility, will open in the fall.

Mother Nature, construction delays push back opening of YSU’s indoor training facility

By Joe Scalzo



In late October, Matt Morrone heard rumors of an impending thunderstorm — complete with 70-mile per hour winds — and was struck by visions of his $10 million baby, the Watson and Tressel Training Site, suffering some costly growing pains.

“At the time, we only had one side of the roof up,” said Morrone, YSU’s athletic business manager. “I was worried it was going to act as a big sail.

“Fortunately, we didn’t get the wind we were supposed to get.”

Mother Nature hasn’t been so cooperative this month.

Thanks to snowy weather and construction delays, YSU has pushed back the planned opening of the WATTS from late December to mid-February.

“Our winter came a little sooner than everybody anticipated,” he said. “We were scrambling to get some things done that needed to get done before the storm hit. The next few weeks will be key in helping us get caught up.

“It’s going to be a challenge.”

University officials had hoped the facility would be done by the end of 2010, in time for the crucial January football recruiting period. The 125,000-square foot building will have a football field, a track, batting cages, training rooms and offices.

YSU will be the first school in the Horizon League with an indoor facility and the Penguins were planning to host the conference indoor track and field championships on Feb. 26-27. But that meet has been moved to Geneva, Ohio.

“We’d still love to host it, but realistically, we’re not sure we can do it,” said Morrone, who secured Geneva’s indoor facility months ago just in case there were construction delays on the WATTS.

Morrone said the facility is well past the halfway point, with the roof “99 percent done” and the in-floor heating system completely installed.

“That was a huge hurdle to get over, considering the complexity of the system,” Morrone said.

The facility should be 99 percent complete in mid-February, Morrone said. The school may still need to finish some landscaping projects and some exterior finishes, but “we should be able to do everything we want to do inside there.”

Potential recruits should be able to tour the building in January.

“Even where it’s at right now, people can come in and at least see the layout,” Morrone said. “That way, they can kind of get that ‘wow factor,’ which is a huge plus.”

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