FEATURE: Adler Rising: A Look Into the Adler Athletic Complex Renovation


The Adler Athletic Complex has been a part of Penn State Altoona’s campus for over 40 years. Started in 1970 and completed in 1977, Adler has become the hub of Altoona’s athletic programs. For athletes, Adler houses 16 intercollegiate athletic teams, coaches, and support staff. For non-athletes, Adler is a workout facility, classroom, and the meeting point for club sports and recreational activities. However, in January of 2016, Adler’s role on campus changed. With local dignitaries and college representatives in tow, ground was broken on a 24.5 million dollar renovation of the aging facility.

What’s the Plan?

Speaking with Penn State Altoona’s Athletic Director, Brent Baird, he was quick to point out that plans to renovate the Adler complex are nothing new. “There have been plans to do this renovation for the last 20 years,” he said. The first plan to renovate Adler was created as Penn State Altoona entered the NCAA in 1997. Today, construction is progressing using the third version of these plans. This renovation is historic not only because of its impact on students, but also because of its size and scope. Baird says that this is the “largest and most complex” renovation in the history of the Penn State Altoona. The Adler renovation includes numerous considerations for athletes and students alike. Besides the construction of a brand-new, 2,200 seat gymnasium, the plan calls for improved fitness and weight training areas, including a two-story “fitness loft”.

A rendering of the “Fitness Loft” in the new Adler Athletic Complex. Photo from Penn State Altoona Athletics

A rendering of the “Fitness Loft” in the new Adler Athletic Complex. Photo from Penn State Altoona Athletics

The second part of the renovation creates a brand new wing with classrooms, research labs, and offices. These classrooms and labs create the opportunity for Penn State Altoona to offer a major in Kinesiology, something that was not possible before the renovations. Lastly, the renovations call for the re-working of the original Adler building. Included in this phase are a new lobby and re-organized offices. If everything goes to plan, Baird believes the new facility could open as soon as Fall 2017.

Who’s Paying for It?

As the renovation enters what Baird calls “the most complex phase”, one large question remains: How is a project like this being funded? In answering this question, Baird outlined three sources of funding for the Adler renovation. The first, is the University’s General Services fund. Baird says the project was added to the list a number of years ago and has worked its way up the list, finally receiving funds in 2015. Secondly, the project is a beneficiary of the Student Activity Fee. Baird quoted around 7 million dollars that have been set aside over the last 7 years for the Adler project. Finally, like many Penn State projects, private donors (including alumni and local businesses) have given numerous gifts toward the completion of the project. One of the most notable examples of this to date is Reliance Bank’s gift of $500,000 in 2016; A gift that bought the bank naming rights for the updated facility’s fitness loft.

Exposed wiring as workers rebuild the original portion of the Adler Athletic Complex

Exposed wiring as workers rebuild the original portion of the Adler Athletic Complex

How Does This Change the Campus?

Baird outlined two different perspectives. When athletes and potential recruits see the new Adler, Baird hopes they will see the gym and be attracted to its possibilities. When students and visitors take a look, Baird believes they will notice the facility’s design, the fitness loft, and new academic role. For everyone though, Baird is excited about how the facility will change the campus’ aesthetics. “This is a big change to [the] face of the campus”, Baird says while explaining how the facility will “light up” during the night, a consequence of its large windows. As the end of the Adler project nears, Baird wants to thank the people who helped make the project possible. Thanking the students for their understanding, Baird hoped students of all perspectives could see the positives of the project.

I originally published this piece at The Altoona Collegiate Review on March 17, 2017.

Andrew Lashinsky