The proposed Jenna Parlette Running Center on the Wilmington College campus could pay for itself in its first year of existence.
According to Debbie Stamper of the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the facility could be used for AAU events, high school indoor track and field meets and basketball events over the course of several months and generate $10 million.
The cost of the facility, according to Bill Baker, owner of MSA Architects, would be between $9 and $10 million “in today’s dollars.”
“We talked to sports planners and coaches trying to figure out in the first year of this facility’s existence what would be the economic impact,” said Stamper. “So it’s interesting that in the first year we feel quite confident that the money could be regenerated for our community.”
A forum was held at Wilmington College’s new Center of Sports Sciences indoor turf field. Aside from Stamper and Baker, those who spoke at the event were Wilmington Mayor Randy Riley, Wilmington College President Jim Reynolds, Wilmington College track/field and cross country coach Ron Combs, Wilmington College Director of Athletics Terry Rupert and Lisa Parlette, mother of Jenna Parlette and the caregiver of the vision to build a new running/athletic facility on the college campus.
Jenna Parlette is a former Wilmington College student who collapsed during a cross country race in 2013 and died three days later. Combs said, “She really was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever been around. There is still a huge hole in the program without her here.”
A tireless runner, Jenna Parlette discussed an indoor running facility at Wilmington College before her death. Her mother, through the JennaStrong Foundation, has a dream to raise the money needed to build the facility, which would be connected to the Center of Sports Sciences building.
“To have a dream during the day that you can work to achieve, work to bring to a reality, now that is a blessing,” said Riley.
Lisa Parlette said a grassroots effort has been ongoing and effective. Parlette said there is a church in Troy that continues to send her checks.
“In Troy, Ohio, they see the dream in Wilmington,” she said.
While at the Turkey Trot in Miamisburg, Parlette said a little girl offered her allowance to the cause. “That $5 might as well have been $5 million to her,” Parlette said.
Baker said the facility would be 75,000 square feet, stretching from the west side of the Center of Sports Sciences and extending to the visiting bleachers at Williams Stadium. The running/athletic facility would include a 200-meter all-weather track, volleyball courts, basketball courts, multi-purpose court surfaces, and conference and meeting rooms.
“I can assure you that the amenities that this will bring to Wilmington College and the community are unparalleled and in very high demand,” said Baker, whose MSA Architects built the College of Sports Sciences. “It is a significant investment but when you begin to think about leveraging that asset for a 30-, 40-, 50-year life cycle before it has to be renovated. Then begin to hear the numbers and the ideas and the visions on an annual basis, the hundreds of thousands of people that this could bring to the community in the near- and long-term, it is a tremendous asset.”
Baker said such a facility would be unique to Southwest Ohio. Cedarville and Ohio State have similar facilities but Miami University, the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University are larger institutions that do not.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.