Christian Brothers Academy hopes to build, inflate sports dome by winter

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COLONIE — When the snow flies next winter, the student athletes at Christian Brothers Academy may not notice it so much.

CBA plans to build a sports dome for them. The town is continuing its review, with a sketch plan examination scheduled for the next Planning Board meeting, on Tuesday.

“COVID has really impacted the student experience, so we wanted to do something they’d enjoy,” CBA President James Schlegel said. “Rain or shine, there’ll always be a place to go.”

The 214-by-310-foot pressurized-air dome would sit directly behind the school building on Airline Drive, not far from a sports dome operated by Afrim’s Sports off Watervliet-Shaker Road.

It would include a four-lane, 200-meter (219-yard) track around a synthetic turf infield, plus space adaptable for weightlifting, wrestling, basketball, triple jump, golf simulators and pole vault. A nearby plot on the 127-acre campus would be configured to manage rain running off the roughly 1.5-acre dome.

Schlegel said there are a lot of moving pieces in the budget for the project, but it’s running in the $3 million range right now. While it’s an expensive prospect, it’s not a lengthy one, he said: Once approvals are in place, construction should move quickly, he said, and the dome should be ready for use this coming winter.

A 4000- to 4,500-square-foot attached entry building with restrooms is planned, but that will take longer to build and will be pushed back to a later phase, Schlegel said.

The budget is coming from donations from parents, alumni and others connected to the private preparatory school for boys in fifth through 12th grades.

The capital campaign has been well-received, Schlegel said, starting with a silent phase and then going public in May.

“We are confident that our community are going to rally behind this project,” he said. “What we’re hearing a lot of is, ‘Man, why didn’t you have that when I was there?’ We’re happy to hear that when they complain like that.”

CBA went through a capital campaign for its circa-1998 campus about five years ago, Schlegel said, and decided to focus that entirely on academics. A music wing, new classrooms and new technology were among the results.

“A few years later we felt … let’s look at activities and athletics,” he said. “So we started that and all of sudden COVID hit.”

CBA managed to put in an artificial turf field at the height of a pandemic, and thought the most impactful followup would be the sports dome, which won’t be strictly a sports dome, as the JROTC cadets will drill and the marching band will practice inside.

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