First operated in 1976, the building and its resources have continued to grow with the college around it. In addition to serving as the center of the athletic programs at the college, this facility provides numerous benefits to the students, faculty and community who use it.
One of the primary purposes of the Ford Fieldhouse is hosting the athletics programs which practice and compete in the facility. The main Gymnasium in the fieldhouse has a capacity for nearly 4000 fans. The natatorium in the north portion of the facility has seating for 2000 fans. Last year, 230 students participated in the intercollegiate sports at GRCC, and the facility hosted 32 home games, 415 practices and nearly 23,000 visitations during these events. This number does not include the sports which take place outside of the Fieldhouse. In addition to our intercollegiate programs, the intramural program draws an equal number of athletes to the facility annually. As important as intercollegiate athletics are to the college and its pride, they comprise only a small fraction of the visitations to the facility.
A much larger number of people visit the fieldhouse to attend physical education classes offered by the Exercise Science Department. Last year, over 3600 students participated in 165 sections of 35 different classes. Altogether, nearly 117,000 visits to the facility were made for exercise science courses.
The Criminal Justice Department also makes significant use of the fieldhouse in training new police officers. The information and practice in the courses is essential for the students to complete their training, and no other facility on the campus has the ability to accommodate their special needs.
In addition to the structured education courses offered through the college, the Fieldhouse's Health Club is open to all students and faculty free of charge. This allows students without the time or inclination to take a course the opportunity to maintain their personal fitness. Persons not associated with the college may also purchase a membership at the Fieldhouse front desk.
Maintaining the Fieldhouse requires an extensive professional staff and close to sixty student employees during the school year. Employing GRCC students serves two purposes. First, it allows the student to have valuable employment experience on campus and earn money to defray the costs of a college education. Second, it is part of our mission to prepare student for work outside of the formal education process. While working at the Fieldhouse, they will have the opportunity to develop skills useful in the marketplace after they depart from the college. We would be amiss if we didn't mention the Ford Pool. It is second to none giving students, health club and community members many opportunities to participate in a variety of aquatic activites.
Finally, it must be mentioned that the activities at the Fieldhouse are not limited to sports. The versatility of the building makes it conducive to the operation of activities which are not athletic in nature. The facility serves well as a venue for banquets both large and small, concerts, commencement programs, circuses, lectures, and trade shows. All of these have been scheduled and successfully executed within the Fieldhouse.