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Tufts to break ground on Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center

Tufts University will break ground for the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, at 12:30 PM. The 42,000 square-foot center will strengthen a university-wide commitment to healthy living while enhancing competitive athletics at Tufts, which recorded its first NCAA team title in May 2010 when men's lacrosse won the Division III championship.

The center, located on College Avenue in Medford, will feature a dramatic new central plaza leading visitors into the heart of the new facilities, which adjoin the existing Gantcher Center and Cousens Gymnasium. An expanded fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment will meet increased student demand. Student athletes and coaches will have access to new locker rooms, a film classroom for off-the-field instruction and an expanded sports medicine suite.

Multipurpose teaching and activity rooms will provide space for aerobics, Pilates, dance and physical education classes. Dedicated space will support the university's Personalized Performance Fitness Program that many members of the Tufts community use to keep in shape. New offices for coaches and administrators are also included.

The striking brick, glass and copper-clad building is a showcase for energy-efficient, "green" technology. Building systems include high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, heat recovery, demand ventilation, high- performance glazing, solar shading devices, automatic lighting controls and natural day lighting.

Steve Tisch, chairman of the New York Giants football team, Academy Award–winning film producer and member of Tufts class of 1971, has led the support of the facility with $13 million in gifts, including a $3 million challenge to inspire other alumni and friends to participate.

"As the owner of a professional sports team, I understand how integral a first-class sports center can be to a dynamic university setting," said Tisch, whose Giants moved into their own new stadium last year. "I'm so pleased to be part of this wonderful new development on the Tufts campus."

Leading the fundraising with Tisch have been members of the athletics board of overseers, who have made nearly $5 million in pledges toward the center as part of Tufts' $1.2 billion Beyond Boundaries campaign. Beyond Boundaries has raised nearly 97 percent of its goal to date.

Stanmar, Inc., of Wayland, Mass., working with architectural firms RGO Partnership (Newton, Mass.) and DiMella Shaffer (Boston), developed the facility design and will construct the project.

Tufts had previously planned to renovate an existing, aged athletics building and add a new facility. The current design incorporates a new facility with a different floor plan and entry concept in front of the old building. Constructing a single building independent of the old one offers greater efficiencies, superior space and significant cost savings.

"We’re getting all the program components we originally wanted, but in a new building, and we’re saving money, too," said Tufts Vice President for Operations Richard Reynolds. "I know that students, faculty, alumni and friends are going to be extremely proud of our new center, which will enhance not only our varsity and club sports but also our many intramural, health and fitness activities."

The Tisch family, which built Loews Corporation, the entertainment and hospitality concern, is known for its philanthropy. Tisch gifts have benefited a range of institutions and organizations around the country. In the early 1990s, a $10 million gift from the family supported the expansion and renovation of the Tisch Library, on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus. In 2006, a $40 million endowment gift from trustee Jonathan Tisch, a graduate of the class of 1976 and Steve's brother, added the Tisch name to Tufts' College of Citizenship and Public Service.

The center continues the enhancement of Tufts' athletic facilities. The university renovated Cousens Gymnasium in 2009. A new boathouse for Tufts' rowing teams opened on the Malden River in 2006. In 2004, the Bello Field turf stadium was finished, providing a recent venue for the NCAA Tournament lacrosse and field hockey games.