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Preparations underway for new CSUSM sports center

SAN MARCOS — On Monday, Cal State San Marcos Athletic Director Jennifer Milo tweeted a photo with an eight-word caption:

“And the construction begins on the Sports Center!”

Well, not exactly — but the preparations for the start of construction of the Cougar Sports Center are underway, as crews began clearing the site of the 2,200-seat arena, which will be located adjacent to the current athletics department offices at the Clarke Field House and completed by August 2016.

“It is a big thing in North County and there is a lot of hype surrounding it, so we are very excited,” Milo said.

The activities this week included relocating the batting cages used by the baseball and softball programs in advance of the teams’ seasons, which begin in January. Several storage bins were also moved off site.

By late February, crews will have placed the construction fencing around the site in advance of the March 23 groundbreaking ceremony for the 25,000-square-foot facility.

The $11.4 million facility is a necessary step for the university to complete its transition to NCAA Division II athletics, as the school currently plays its indoor sport games at local high school and junior colleges.

Currently, the school has the nation’s No. 1 basketball team in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and the team plays its home games at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, 10 miles away from campus.

The athletic programs will begin playing NCAA Division 2 schedule and are expected to fully transition to Division II by the 2017-18 school year.

“It’s been talked about for a while, so when you go about campus and talk about it, everyone is looking forward to it,” said Matt Berson, the university’s sports information director. “It is going to change the dynamics for the university and hopefully it will become a place where students and the community will come together.”

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