This is indeed a very exciting time to be at Marywood University. One signpost of the University's ongoing progress-the groundbreaking and subsequent construction of the new Aquatics Center-brings us together today.
During the past few years, we have seen the construction of the remarkable Mellow Center for Athletics and Wellness, as well as the addition and enhancement of several athletic fields, including the synthetic turf field, which is visible from Interstate 81 and is the first outdoor athletic venue at Marywood with stadium lighting-making evening games possible. The new Aquatics Center represents the third and final phase of the comprehensive, 25 million dollar expansion efforts of Marywood's Athletic and Recreation program facilities.
This facility will feature 17,000 square feet of competitive and recreation space, including an eight-lane, NCAA regulation pool with a three-meter diving board and two, one-meter diving boards. The center will also contain a raised platform and bleacher seating for 200 spectators, as well as a Safety Center Office and team locker rooms.
More than that, the new Aquatics Center will have a tremendous impact on students. In a physical sense, it will expand the Mellow Center, further enhancing the student life corridor through its location near residence halls and the Nazareth Student Center. It will attract prospective students, while providing current students with another outstanding recreation and fitness option, also making possible the addition of two new varsity sports-men's and women's swimming and diving. This development means that Marywood University will now sponsor a total of 16 varsity sports.
The overall atmosphere of excellence generated by the anticipation of the Aquatics Center is already fostering a sense of university pride among students, faculty, staff, and alumni. In fact, the Class of 1960 has indicated that it will support the construction cost of the Entrance Plaza to the Aquatics Center as its 50th anniversary class gift project. This kind of support and enthusiasm strengthens the notion that the Marywood experience is a lifetime experience.
As we celebrate the symbolic first step of construction through today's groundbreaking ceremony, I am reminded that projects of this magnitude are not the arbitrary endeavors of a few, but are the result of dedicated efforts of many, and this day simply would not be possible without the generosity and encouragement of our many benefactors.
Now, we have turned the soil towards the next phase of Marywood's progress.