Long Beach City College has unveiled the latest addition to its campus.
Today, the college announced the opening of its new $75 million kinesiology labs and aquatic center at the school’s Liberal Arts Campus. The aquatic center also officially took on a new name: the Monte Nitzkowski Aquatic Center, in honor of LBCC’s former swimming and water polo coach.
Nitzkowski, who died in 2016, was an Olympic swimmer who led the Vikings to six state championships in water polo and six state championships in swimming during his tenure from 1955 to 1989.
Now, the legendary coach’s name is attached to the new 30,000-square-foot center, complete with an Olympic-size swimming pool alongside new artificial turf soccer and softball fields, as well as new tennis courts and beach sand volleyball courts across over 18 total acres of construction.
“What top-level student athlete wouldn’t want to learn, practice and compete here?” President and Superintendent of LBCC Mike Muñoz said during the Friday morning ceremony.
Support facilities ranging from locker rooms to ice bath machines and new gym equipment will take up about 12,000 square feet of space at the new center.
After breaking ground in the fall of 2019 and starting construction soon after, the process moved smoothly despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to LBCC Board of Trustees President Uduak-Joe Ntuk.
“It was completed right on schedule and ready for the return of our spring semester this year,” Ntuk said.
Aquatics coach Chris Oeding, who is also an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s Water Polo team, said the facilities are a much-needed breath of fresh air for his athletes.
“This is surreal,” Oeding said. “It’s a beautiful day for our past, our present, and our future student athletes, because they have a new home. And what a home it is.”
While academics are the central focus for any college, LBCC officials said they understand the important role that athletics can play in a student’s growth.
“Athletics is an important part of the total college experience, and athletic events provide students an opportunity to develop valuable skills,” Muñoz said, “such as teamwork, self discipline, problem solving, and leadership that can be useful in everyday life.”
College officials also hope that others will take notice of the new facilities—particularly folks associated with some of the major international events that will soon stop in Southern California.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that when the Olympics come and when the World Cup comes, this is somewhere that those athletes from around the world can come and practice and be ready for competition,” Ntuk said.
The voter-approved bond measures E in 2008 and LB in 2016 helped fund the construction, and college officials acknowledged their importance during Friday’s ceremony.
“We simply could not have done it without them,” Ntuk said of the city’s voters. “Because of their ‘yes,’ we’ve been able to make significant progress toward modernizing the college.”
The bond money has driven a wave of new construction at the college, this project being one of them.
“We completed some important infrastructure at both campuses,” Ntuk said. “All of those celebrations have been virtual, so we are especially pleased to be with you in person today.”
Renovations to the auditorium at the Liberal Arts Campus were completed in 2020, a new three-story multi-disciplinary building is scheduled to open this year, and plans are in the works for the modernization of the school’s Construction Trades facilities at the Pacific Coast Campus, among other projects.
Campus officials hope that these new facilities will help burnish the college’s reputation.
“With our equitable and consistent academic success rates and improved facilities at both campuses,” Muñoz said, “there’s just no better learning and living environment than here at LBCC.”