U reveals pricey plan for Gophers athletics

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 11, 2013 - 3:06 AM

The U revealed its $190 million plan to upgrade facilities.

 

Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague unveiled a $190 million athletic facilities master plan for the University of Minnesota on Wednesday, surprising observers with the size, scope and cost of a project that will affect every university sport.

“More than anything, I wanted to show that we’re going to be aggressive and be committed to doing the best we can and stretching ourselves all that we can to building something like this,” Teague said. “Am I guaranteeing all of this is going to get done in eight years? No. But that’s our goal.”

In presenting the proposal to the Board of Regents, Teague offered a relatively brief timeline to complete the project and said the athletic department intends to foot the entire bill through fundraising. In comparison, TCF Bank Stadium, the Gophers football stadium that opened in 2009 and had a $288.5 million budget, had a fundraising goal of $86 million.

The plan encompasses a football training complex, a men’s and women’s basketball practice facility, an academic center, a training table for dining, a women’s gymnastics facility, an Olympic sport indoor practice facility, an outdoor Olympic sport track and a wrestling training facility — all of it housed on the athletic department’s current footprint.

“It is true that we need some investment in our facilities,” said University President Eric Kaler. “We’re in the Big Ten and we need to be competitive in the Big Ten. This investment is going to move us a long way toward where we need to be.”

The Bierman Athletic Building will be torn down to accommodate the plans, and the current track will be moved to a new location, with the basketball practice facility landing where the track and a parking lot currently sit. The facilities would be grouped together to create a home base of sorts for student athletes.

“Our desire … is to make the area where Bierman is an athletic village,” Teague said. “We felt like our student athletes, our coaches, everyone wanted more of a center and an anchor and a hub’’ for the athletes.

Regent David M. Larson pointed out that no such holistic plan has ever been proposed at the university. Administrators have instead chosen to attack concerns one at a time. “This is going to be a change from our historic past,” Larson said.

The trick will be finding the money to make it all happen. In the months before this plan was announced, Teague estimated the cost could be between $80 million and $125 million.

Teague lauded the state’s fundraising potential and said the hope was to finance the entire project privately,.There was no figure yet available on funds committed, he said, nor does the department currently have a lead donor.

“We have a lot of passionate people out there, and I’m trusting that if we sell a good vision, that we’ll find that we’ll have a great response,” said Teague, who was hired as Gophers athletic director in April 2012. “We hope there will still be a handful of lead donors.”

In big-time collegiate athletics, extravagant facilities have almost become the norm. That has put the U at a disadvantage in trying to recruit players who are also visiting programs whose facilities are more modern.

The Gophers men’s and women’s basketball teams, along with a host of other programs, share Williams Arena as a venue to both practice and play, while Bierman houses countless teams on a given day. The lack of availability can keep student athletes from practicing as much as they would like, and the cramped space can make it difficult for students to find a place to study, Teague said.

Minnesota along with Northwestern is one of only two programs in the Big Ten without a dedicated basketball practice facility.

Northwestern is currently raising money for a $220 million athletics complex, while Wisconsin announced plans for an $86 million student-athlete performance center last year. Nebraska unveiled a state-of-the art basketball practice facility in 2011 and is currently working on a $179 million arena.

“We need to get caught up,” Teague said.

Teague called Wednesday’s blueprints “phase one,” indicating that there could be a “phase two” in the future. That prospect, however, was not discussed in detail, although Teague said a renovated outer concourse for Williams Arena could be part of it.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 32 2nd Qtr 5:05
Phoenix 42
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 3rd Prd 1:11
Colorado 2
Buffalo 1 2nd Prd 7:39
Vancouver 3
Chicago 2 2nd Prd 7:27
Anaheim 0
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
IUPUI 59 FINAL
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 19 2nd Half 13:58
Arizona 30
Kent State 34 2nd Half 12:20
Buffalo 61
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How should Timberwolves fans greet Kevin Love on Saturday?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close