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WATCH: Check out Northwestern’s new Walter Athletics Center

Here’s your chance to tour (virtually, of course) the new facilities

We got the chance to check out Northwestern’s new Walter Athletics Center yesterday. In Pat Fitzgerald’s words, it’s “spectacular.” If you don’t want to take his word for it, here are some videos and photos of the new facility, along with three takeaways from our tour yesterday.

Video:

Here’s Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Communications Paul Kennedy showing off the interactive football touchscreen, which displays Northwestern alums in NFL, and more.

A look at the non-revenue interactive feature in the atrium of Walter Athletics Center:

Fitz joined the tour of the facilities for a bit. Unfortunately, this gets cut off abruptly at the end, but it was cool to hear how intentional all of the design choices were, and how much input Fitz had in the process.

Here’s a video of nearly the entire tour. This is a little long, but it gives you a chance to feel like you are walking through the facility. Timestamps are below:

Timestamps

~1:00- New football locker room, with plenty of features and amenities.

~7:00- Fitness center, some non-revenue locker rooms and lounges (namely women’s soccer)

~15:00- New rec basketball courts, along with running track and potential floor hockey rink/futsal court (open to Northwestern students)

~20:00- Non-revenue sports weight room

~23:00- Ryan Fieldhouse

~26:30- Football lounge and outdoor patio, replete with beach view

~30:00- Football weight room

~36:00- Dining room, academic resources/study rooms

Plenty of other nuggets along the way, including lots of great views and interesting design elements.

Photos:

Photographs by Talia Hendel

Takeaways

Non-Revenue Sports Space

Last year, my first year on campus, was a banner year for Northwestern non-revenue sports. But often, similarly to other power conference schools, it felt like those programs got the short end of the stick when it came to renovations and all of the attention placed on football and men’s basketball. As you can see in the longer video above, field hockey, soccer, swimming & diving, cross country, and others have received significantly upgraded locker rooms and a giant weight room to go along with lakefront lounges and other amenities. A far cry from being tucked away in the corner of Patten, that’s for sure. It’s good to see Northwestern reinforcing these programs’ recent success with the new facilities, and not just focusing on football.

The Basement Basketball Courts

The space may look a bit sterile, but the courts, open to the Northwestern student body, will serve as a much-needed replacement for recreational purposes. Along with a modified hockey rink that could serve as a futsal/indoor soccer court or even just another basketball court, the two typical courts will help with intramurals, club sports, and certainly recreation. Once the Welsh-Ryan renovations are officially finished and Blom is fully reopened to the public, Northwestern students will have plenty of options once again.

Too Much?

The space is certainly lavish, and while some details, like the interactive touch screens and the listing of Academic All-Americans, hit the right note, there are parts that seem over the top. Upgrades to non-revenue sports, dedicated recreational courts, and the ability to rewatch practice (still in developmental stages) are definitively helpful. But touches like a VR room (not shown on our videos), and a multi-level media center that seats hundreds are arguably less necessary. Walter Athletics Center is dazzling, and serves as a significant upgrade for a set of programs that seem to be on the rise. However, there’s a reason no school has yet entered the same stratosphere as $270 million on a dedicated sports facility, and part of me wishes some of that money was spent elsewhere.