The purchase of the Orthopaedic Specialists Sports Complex by St. Ambrose University addresses indoor athletics and recreation space needs of the growing Davenport institution.
“It’s a great acquisition for our university, which will receive broad usage by the athletics department and the entire student body,” Ray Shovlain, director of athletics at St. Ambrose, said Friday shortly after the sale of the facility commonly known as the “Brady Street Bubble” was announced.
The 67,000-square-foot facility at 5003 Brady St. was purchased by St. Ambrose for $450,000 from Acquired Capital, an investment and holding company based in Stafford, Texas.
Acquired Capital shuttered the six-year-old facility Feb. 8 after it failed to receive the minimum bid it sought at a Scott County Sheriff’s Department auction.
The Texas company had purchased the facility from US Bank, which took possession of it from its local owner after a foreclosure in December 2009.
In a statement announcing the purchase, St. Ambrose indicated its plans to use the facility to “provide additional indoor recreation space for students, as well as athletic teams, which currently practice and play at 11 different sites throughout the Quad-Cities.”
St. Ambrose football, soccer, baseball, softball, golf and track teams have rented the facility in the past and now will have a regular place to train indoors as needed.
Including junior varsity teams, Shovlain estimates that 10-12 St. Ambrose intercollegiate teams have used the facility in the past.
“It’s a very versatile facility, and our programs have used it extensively. In general, there is a need for additional recreation space on campus, and this starts to address those needs,” said Shovlain, who added that opening the complex to the public is under review.
St. Ambrose coaches welcomed the acquisition of the bubble.
Football coach Mike Magistrelli said the Fighting Bees have used the facility for spring and fall practices whenever weather conditions have prevented the team from using its grass practice field adjacent to Lee Lohman Arena.
St. Ambrose football players also have used the facility for offseason conditioning work.
“In the middle of winter, it’s been a great place for our guys to run,” Magistrelli said. “We’ve made good use of it in the past, and a facility like this would certainly be a tremendous asset for any small college.”
With the bubble’s 75-foot ceiling, the Fighting Bees have been able to work on punt units and kick returns, something that is not possible in more standard indoor facilities.
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That extended height also has allowed the St. Ambrose golf teams to have an indoor home.
“Our guys have made good use of the facility over the years,” men’s coach Jeff Griebel said. “When it closed its doors in February, it was something that was missed by all of our players. Being in a northern climate, to have a place to go and hit indoors like that is important, and no question it has helped our golfers a great deal.”
Magistrelli and Griebel believe the facility can become a valuable recruiting tool.
“I don’t know of another small college that has a facility like this,” Magistrelli said. “It is certainly something we would take recruits and their families through, and we will show them how it can benefit the development of their young man.”
Griebel has shown recruits the facility in the past.
“We’ve talked to recruits about having access to the facility, and maybe now instead of just walking in and showing them, they could hit a few balls there,” Griebel said. “I would think it could be very helpful in recruitment for a lot of our programs. It’s a pretty unique facility.”
Griebel said he could envision the bubble hosting winter-time baseball and softball camps or a golf camp.
“Some of our coaches already host those at Lee Lohman as a way to raise additional funds for their programs, so this could provide them with additional space and opportunities,” he said. “I think it is going to be very beneficial for our entire institution.”