ITHACA, N.Y. — One thing that Cornell never seems to have enough of is space. Case in point, the university has filed plans with the city of Ithaca this month for a modular athletics facility for its sprint football team.

For those unfamiliar, sprint football, also known as lightweight football, is basically football for smaller guys. Players have to weigh less than 178 pounds and have a minimum of 5% body fat. Whereas regular football puts a premium on big, beefy guys with size and strength, sprint football places an emphasis on speed and agility. It’s played on the collegiate level by a limited number of colleges.

According to the Site Plan Review application, the sprint football team has been displaced due to Title IX facilities parity efforts – their current lockers will become the lockers for the Cornell Women’s Lacrosse team. The sprint football squad is in need of a new space not currently available in Cornell’s physical offerings, and no existing space can be renovated to suit their needs.

As a result, the university is looking to host the sprint football team in new modular digs. Plans call for a 1,836 square-foot one-story structure with lockers to serve fifty team members and staff, showers, toilet facilities and a training/taping area. New electric, water, sewer and computer systems utilities would also be installed to service the structure, which sounds like it will be “long-term temporary” at the very least. New lighting and landscaping would also be placed.

Location-wise, the building would be assembled southeast of Schoellkopf Field’s crescent, and south of the Fischell Band Center built several years ago. Parking would be shared with Schoellkopf. An enlarged access driveway and ADA-compliant parking space will be paved to service the building. The site was previously wooded, but partially cleared for construction staging to rebuild the Hoy Road bridge. Still, six trees will need to be removed, and they will be replaced with four new trees and a number of shrubs. A new safety fence will be installed at the rear to keep students from entering the gorge.

The building will be fairly run-of-the-mill as modular structures go, with metal vertical siding, with some Cornell red (carnelian) finished in keeping with team spirit. The new facility will be all-electric for its utility needs, with air-sourced heat pumps, a commercial-grade instantaneous water heater and backup traditional electric tank heater. A small amount of hot water will be available at any given time, and the whole system kicks up to provide enough hot water for the team to shower.

Being relatively small and having no neighbors within 200 feet of the construction site, site plan review will be limited in scope and likely a breeze as projects in the city of gorges go. As long as the paperwork is filled out and looks accurate, the Planning Board review will most likely be quick and fairly painless.

The $600,000 construction project will be a quick build, given its relatively small size and modular layout (only two units are required to be trucked in and connected, atop a concrete pier foundation). Plans call for the new structure to begin work in June and be ready in August, in time for next year’s sprint football season.

If approved and built on-time, the sprint football facility would be one of two athletics facilities projects Cornell would have underway this summer. The university has approved plans to build a new Hoy Field baseball stadium out in the town of Ithaca off of Ellis Hollow and Game Farm Roads, as plans for a new $100 million computer science and engineering building take shape on the site of the existing field.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at