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The boathouse that Massachusetts women’s rowing coach Jim Dietz has long been waiting for is finally coming.
UMass announced on Wednesday that construction has begun for a new boathouse facility that will be the first permanent home for the women’s rowing team since it became a varsity sport in 1995.

The building, which will be located on the Connecticut River next to the Calvin Coolidge Bridge, will cost $130,000, according to UMass Athletics spokesman John Sinnett. The University is partnering with Sportsman Marina, based out of Hadley, for a five-year lease of the boathouse.

The facility is expected to be completed in June 2013, and an opening ceremony will be held on Sept. 8, 2013, at the site.

“The completion of this building will be the single most significant event in the history of UMass rowing,” Dietz said in a University release. “The boathouse will solidify the commitment this university has made to the success of our rowing program. It will help in our recruiting effort as well giving us a gathering point for our many distinguished alumni.”

The facility will feature several necessary components for the team, which include three bays to store and maintain boats as well as team rooms, showers, changing areas and enough storage space to hold the team’s equipment, according to the release. The size of the boathouse is approximately 72 by 80 feet, which will also allow enough space to make boat repairs and for the team to participate in workouts.

In early February 2011, 13 of the team’s boats were destroyed when, during a winter of record snowfall, approximately four feet of snow and ice that had accumulated on the roof of the team’s boathouse collapsed and cost the program about $175,000, with each boat costing between $10,000 and $30,000.

The surviving boats were then stored in trailers under McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Dietz, who has been coaching the team for 18 seasons, said at the time that he would be surprised if he saw another boathouse built before he retired. Plans for building one had been in talks for several years, but nothing had been put into action, until now.

“We are extremely pleased that we have been able to make this much needed facility a reality,” UMass Director of Athletics John McCutcheon said in the release. “This will be a wonderful asset for our women’s rowing program and I cannot thank enough those who have worked so hard for so long to make this happen.”

The new boathouse is the latest facility upgrade at UMass on a list that is full of recent ones, which have included enhancements to McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Elaine Sortino Field and Garber Field, as well as brand new facilities for the track and field complex and Student Recreation Center.

The Minutewomen, who recently finished their 2012 fall campaign, will be back in the water on March 23, 2013, when they take a short trip to Northampton to face the Coast Guard to kick off the spring campaign. UMass will be seeking its 14th Atlantic 10 championship.

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at shewitt@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @steve_hewitt.

 

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