NEW YORK—Columbia varsity sports teams now have access to a brand-new indoor winter practice facility as the University officially opened its Seasonal Air-Supported Structure (SASS) at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium, Campbell Family Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education Peter Pilling announced on Friday afternoon.

“We are thrilled to complete construction of our new Bubble at Baker facility,” Pilling said. “The Bubble is so important to our long-term success. The new facility provides us a state-of-the-art indoor winter practice space for our field sports which compete at Baker Athletics Complex. The facility will also alleviate seasonal overcrowding in Dodge Fitness Center that negatively affects our indoor varsity sports, as well as our clubs and our recreational users. In addition to Columbia’s outdoor varsity teams, we anticipate that the Bubble at Baker will also be accessible to Columbia’s campus recreation programs, including select club sports and intramurals. Access for local Inwood community and recreational groups and select rental opportunities will also be available.”

Located at Columbia’s Baker Athletics Complex (corner of Broadway and 218th Street) and adjacent to the Campbell Sports Center, the Bubble at Baker is a heated air-supported dome enclosing Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium and field. The facility also features a brand-new Field Turf Revolution 360 playing surface, which was installed in October. All seven of Columbia’s field sports teams housed at the Baker Athletics Complex (football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey and lacrosse) will receive access to the new indoor practice facility throughout the winter months. Starting next year, the bubble will be inflated each winter from December through March.

Funds for the Bubble at Baker project were raised by donors to Columbia Athletics.

“We want to thank all of our generous donors for this important project,” Pilling said. “To have embarked on a major capital project so soon after the completion of the landmark Campbell Sports Center was no small feat. Almost all of our varsity sports programs are represented among the alumni and parent investors in the project, with football and men’s soccer leading the way. I want to thank the late Bill Campbell ’62CC, Robert Kraft ‘63CC, and Rocco B. Commisso ‘71SEAS for being lead investors. Also, it’s significant that some of our best former student-athletes like Marcellus Wiley ‘97CC (football) stepped up in support of the bubble—that demonstrates what a meaningful impact it will have on our program.”

Columbia is the third Ivy League athletics program to establish a Seasonal Air-Supported Structure within its athletics facility footprint, following both Penn and Harvard. The placement of the structure over the wide soccer venue (as opposed to over the football field at Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium) will provide Columbia with a large cubic footprint that will accommodate more athletes than a similar bubble on an American football field. The large amount of space will provide flexible practice setups for all field sports which will come in handy for Columbia’s spring sports teams, who start competition before the end of New York City winters. This will provide Columbia teams a jump-start to their early season contests.

Resurfacing of the Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium was completed by The LandTek Group, the firm responsible for last year’s successful resurfacing of Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium. The air-supported structure was manufactured by Arizon Building Systems.

The Bubble at Baker will feature approximately 92,000 square feet of practice space. By comparison Levien Gymnasium affords about 15,000 square feet of practice space; University Gym provides only 5,000.

The Bubble at Baker project is the continuation of the University’s effort to modernize and improve Baker Athletics Complex over the past decade. In 2012, Columbia dedicated the award-winning Campbell Sports Center at the corner of 218th Street and Broadway. Designed by renowned architect and Columbia faculty member Steven Holl and his firm, the Campbell Sports Center has been lauded by numerous awards committees in New York and beyond. In 2014, Columbia unveiled the Muscota Marsh, a popular, scenic public greenspace for the Inwood community that the university supports on an ongoing basis.

For more information on how to invest, please contact Lauren Dwyer ‘11CC ‘16BUS, Associate Director of Athletics Development at lad2131@columbia.edu or (212) 851-7860.

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