We'll look back on 2018 as a rebuilding year for Gophers sports — the literal definition of rebuilding, that is.
By the end of the year, the Gophers wrestling, golf and track and field programs will have new practice and competition facilities. With some final Board of Regents approvals Friday, these projects now will amount to nearly $20 million of construction completed in 2018.
Combine these initiatives with the Athletes Village opening last month and 2018 will go down as the year Gophers sports were remade in many ways.
Regents on Friday approved a complete renovation of the old basketball practice space in the Bierman buidling (now within Athletes Village) for a new home for Gophers wrestling. The wrestling team for decades has used the Bierman basement for its home. The $2.6 million project will be funded by "private giving" that is already committed, according to Regents documents.
The Board had previously approved construction of a $3.2 million indoor golf practice facility at the U's Les Bolstad course. Both projects are expected to be completed at year's end. The two-year $13 million track and field stadium construction project, also privately funded, is expected to be ready this fall next to Athletes Village.
"Our wrestling program has needed a new practice space for quite a while, well before I first came work for Gopher Athletics back in 2001." Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle wrote in a release. "The program has succeeded at the highest levels despite the challenges of its current practice space, which is too small and showing its age. ... We're grateful for the donors who invested in this project, the latest in a series of ambitious improvements to the everyday facilities used by Gopher student-athletes."
The old Bierman gym will be renovated to include 97,500 square feet of dedicated wrestling mat space, a 1,100-square-foot cardio room and a mezzanine level that will provide overhead viewing and new coaches' offices, a video room and lounge.
Wrestling coach Brandon Eggum wrote: "Many All-Americans, National Champions, National Team Championships and lifelong friendships were made in that old basement. We are bringing all those past successes with us to our new facility, where we plan to build another era of greatness for this incredible program."