September 14, 2006

SIU Board approval moves Saluki Way projects ahead

by Sue Davis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Saluki Way, a plan to develop a new campus core at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, moved ahead today (Sept. 14) when the SIU Board of Trustees gave formal approval for planning, including developing schematic drawings and cost estimates for a new general classroom building, a new student services building, a new football stadium and extensive renovations of the SIU Arena.

The Board had approved integrating the Saluki Way plan into SIUC's Land Use Plan in March. As conceptualized, Saluki Way will create a central campus core stretching from Altgeld Hall at the north to the SIU Arena at the southern edge of campus. It will include new classroom, athletics and general service buildings as well as new parking facilities.

"We are moving ahead and appreciate the Board's vote of confidence today," said SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler. "Saluki Way, part of the Land Use Plan, will create a new front door for our campus and we look forward to returning to the board for project approvals."

Preliminary cost estimates for the first phase of the plan total $118 million: $18 million for the general classroom building, $25 million for the new student services building and $75 million for upgraded athletics facilities. The University will receive a more exact cost projection after experts complete the planning work approved by the Board today.

Saluki Way will be built in several phases between now and 2015. Future phases will include more classroom and multi-use facilities and parking structures. The facility upgrade is just part of the University's long-range plan for improving the University.

By the end of 2015, Southern projects it will invest about $500 million developing excellence in people, programs and places. SIUC plans to spend $312 million for academic commitments, $112 million for student commitments and $75 million for athletics commitments.

Time lines for the projects show construction for the new student services building and the new stadium will likely begin in 2008, followed by the general classroom in 2009 and the SIU Arena in 2010.

The student services building will be located near the Student Center and will put offices related to student services in one location to make it easier for students to register, attend open houses and conduct daily business. Offices that will be part of the new complex include areas such as Undergraduate Admissions, Records & Registration, Financial Aid, Scholarships, the Bursar's Office, Disability Support Services, Career Services, Judicial Affairs, Transitional Programs, Career Services, and many other student service components and offices from across the University.

Cross-trained staff for services offices and a new welcome center in the facility will provide enhanced campus visits for prospective students and their families. Funding for the project will come from tuition and student fees.

The general classroom facility will expand the availability of classrooms wired for today's technologies and will also include laboratories, library and reference rooms, student lounges, study areas, and a computer center. Tuition and student fees will pay for construction.

While SIUC's Saluki athletics teams have brought the University national attention in various sports, the University's athletics facilities are in clear need of repair and replacement. The stadium would move to the south, just east of the existing SIU Arena and would provide more comfortable seating for 15,000 fans. Early conceptualization work shows a stadium that is largely built below the existing ground level, presenting a much lower profile on the horizon. Suites, club seats and other amenities will create a state-of-the-art stadium. Once it is complete, the old stadium will be torn down to make way for other buildings that are part of future phases of Saluki Way.

SIU Arena renovations will include better seating, more room for concessions, additional restrooms, a larger lobby and suite seating. Artists' renderings show a two-story addition that will circle the existing building and tie in visually with the Troutt-Wittmann Academic and Training Center that was opened last year.

Private donations and student fees will pay for both the new stadium and the renovations for the SIU Arena.