Mark Coyle peered out over Dinkytown with the Minneapolis skyline in the distance and said, “You don’t have to have the biggest house in the neighborhood, but you want to be in the neighborhood. We’re in the neighborhood.
“This is a game changer for us.”
The Gophers athletic director and his Big Ten program still have about nine months until they move into their new headquarters, but construction on the $166 million Athletes Village is 65 to 70 percent completed.
Coyle helped lead a tour of the site for media members Thursday and revealed about $100 million of the $166 million funding goal has been raised for the project.
One of his favorite spots on the tour is the fifth floor southwest corner of the Land O'Lakes Center for Excellence, the new leadership center, where walls of windows overlook downtown Minneapolis.
While cameras stopped for the “money shot,” Coyle said, “When people come through it, like all of you, they are kind of caught off guard. Like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot here.’
“And there’s a lot here. … It’s a really good step for our program.”
While most of the structures are enclosed with framing and Sheetrock is starting to go up, the floor plans are still being pieced together.
Among the noticeable features are the high ceilings and big rooms in each building. The indoor football facility is 200-foot wide, 400-feet long, has an 85-foot tall roof and will feature lots of natural light. The existing Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex can fit into the new facility.
The Football Performance Center features state-of-the-art weight and training rooms that will include underwater treadmills and hot/cold tubs.
“When P.J. [Fleck] saw this, this got his attention,” Coyle said.
All of the buildings feature sage glass windows with electrochromic technology to enhance natural light, and reduce heat and glare.
“I can tell you we have people who are excited about it,” Coyle said, “and it’s nice giving people a chance to see it.”
The athletic department will host a “topping off” event Friday where guests can sign the final structural steel beam to be added to the Athletes Village. After a ceremony, the beam will be placed in the new indoor football practice facility.
The Gophers' "Nothing Short of Greatness" fundraising goal, which includes other athletic facilities, is $190 million. Construction on the Athletes Village remains on schedule and is expected to be completed by January 2018.
Staff writer Joe Christensen contributed to this report.