NU breaks ground on $11.5M Kiernan Center renovation

From left, Debra Colley, executive vice president, Niagara University; Bill Goodrich, LeChase Construction; Daycia Clarke, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; Mary Borgognoni, Senior VP, NU; Avante Walker, NU student; the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University; Angelo Morinello, state assemblyman; Rob Ortt, state senator; Mayor Robert Restaino and Dan Kuberka with the Special Olympics attend Tuesday's ceremony at NU.

Niagara University's Kiernan Recreation Center is getting a $11.5 million facelift.

Ground was broken Tuesday on the project which features an 18,000-square foot, two-story addition with a new weight room, sports medicine suite, advanced dance studios, field and classroom storage, athletic locker rooms, team meeting space and recreation offices. School officials say students will also benefit from the creation of student meeting and multi-use spaces, and a new, more welcoming, entryway. A number of improvements will also be completed during the renovation, including replacement to the front gym floor, upgrades to Scaffidi gym, and infrastructure enhancements such as a new natatorium filtration system.

“Niagara University is committed to providing our students with a world-class education,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “Part of that education is the deep engagement of students in the entire living-learning environment. The Kiernan Center project will provide our students, and the entire community, with a facility that anchors our commitment to excellence and touches every aspect of a student’s life on our campus.”

Project construction is scheduled to begin later this month, and the renovation is expected to be completed for the fall 2022 semester. Funding for the project includes a $1 million grant from the NYS Higher Education Capital Matching program (HECap), as well as other private donations and university investments.

The Kiernan Center, which was built in 1989, features an indoor track, swimming pool, free weights, basketball courts, an aerobic dance area, and a wide array of cardio and strength-training equipment. The facility is used by more than 2,000 individuals each week, with 400 students participating in club sports and more than 1,000 students competing in intramural sports each year. Students also participate in popular workout programs such as kickboxing, Zumba, Pilates, and yoga. Additionally, the facility has space that is used by a number of academic departments each semester as part of their curriculum.

The Kiernan Center also serves as an asset for the Niagara region. The Special Olympics has hosted its annual regional competition at the Kiernan Center since 2008. The center hosted the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation’s Girls in Sports Day in 2019, and the facility was used for the most recent American Diabetes Tour de Cure event (2019). The Kiernan Center is also used each year by hundreds of members of the local community for youth summer camps and clinics.

Niagara University has partnered with LeChase Construction Services to manage the Kiernan Center renovations.

“We applaud Niagara University on their commitment to students, faculty and community,” said William H. Goodrich, CEO and managing partner, LeChase. “The Kiernan Center will provide enhanced space for campus gatherings and recreation, and will also serve the surrounding community as a space for athletic and special events. LeChase is proud to play a role in this milestone project, and we look forward to building a long-term partnership with Niagara University.”

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