There's a green light for the renovation and expansion of the Student Sports Center. Photo | Bart van Overbeeke

Sports Center can expand, parking to be outsourced

Last Monday the University Council agreed to the renovation and expansion of the Student Sports Center. It also approved the outsourcing of the parking facilities on campus to commercial parties - provided certain preconditions are taken into account. It was previously made known that TU/e cannot invest in both projects and that a choice therefore had to be made.

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photo Bart van Overbeeke

The Student Sports Center has been showing major signs of wear and tear for a good long while, with more than 13,000 sport card holders using its facilities to a greater or lesser extent. At the same time, finding a parking space quickly on campus isn't easy for vehicle drivers, especially when there's an event on.

Investing in both projects was never a possibility, as Cursor has reported in the past, so a choice had to be made. Real Estate Management partnered up with Internal Affairs to study whether either parking or sports, including the Student Sports Center, could be outsourced to a commercial party. As stated in a memo on this subject, the finding is that outsourcing parking involves fewer drawbacks and risks than outsourcing the Sports Center,.

The memo also mentions that the Steering Group Campus 2030 ‘proposes using the available budget as established in the Real Estate Strategy 2030 for the expansion and remodeling of the Sports Center and to outsource parking under the direction of TU/e.’

Parking garages

The expansion and remodeling of the Sports Center were quickly agreed to by the University Council factions on Monday, on the condition that the project plans were updated. Similar agreement for outsourcing the parking facilities, however, was not gained quite as easily. The idea is that an external party builds parking garages and that TU/e purchases parking spaces.

The members of the campus committee of the University Council sought answers to a number of questions on this subject. Among other things, they wanted to know why total control of the university's parking is being outsourced, and whether a different, hybrid solution would be conceivable. They also wanted to know whether the special parking rates for employees and students would be maintained.

As Diana Heijnerman of staff faction PUR explained Monday, these questions had largely been answered in an earlier meeting. On behalf of the campus committee, Heijnerman read out a statement, the gist of which was that the factions agree to the commercial outsourcing, provided account is taken of various recommendations. For example, special rates must be available to TU/e people, the first half hour's parking must continue to be free, and a covered cycle shed with some form of security must be provided in the parking garage.

A possible location for a parking garage is the site between the Vertigo building and Gaslab, at the moment already occupied by parking spaces, as Veronique Marks, director of Real Estate Management informed Cursor, some time ago.

MMS site

The MMS site, the parking facility outside the campus where parking is for free for TU/e personnal, must be kept out of the tendering process for parking management; this was another recommendation made by the University Council, who also wishes to be closely involved in further formulating the preconditions for the tender.

Jo van Ham, vice president of the Executive Board, suggested that discussion of the content of the preconditions be discussed further by the campus committee. But in advance of this, he mentioned yesterday that the MMS site need not, to his mind, continue to be a place where free parking is offered. “Only a few drivers park their vehicles there now and it is a triple-A location that you may want to use in other ways.”

Director Wim Koch keen to get started

Wim Koch, the director of the Sports Center, says he is very happy that the decision has finally been made and that he can get started on the preparations, the rapid result of which, it is hoped, will be a round of public tenders for this project. "We completed the business case back in 2016, but then the plans had to be mothballed because owing to the strong growth, the financial resources all went into education."

Koch expects it will be possible to start the work in a year's time. The total budget still stands at eleven million, he tells Cursor. For sportspeople, it should mean an expansion of more than 3,000 square meters in additional sports facilities. The renovation will focus mainly on offices and the facade, and the climate control needs work too, says Koch. At the end of 2020, early 2021 the work should be finished, "but if I can accelerate this whole process in any way, I will certainly try to," says an enthusiastic Koch.


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