LET THE #FACILITIESMAS CELEBRATIONS COMMENCE!
UMN board of regents just approved Athletes Village. It was on the consent agenda so there was no discussion. Breaking ground next month.— josh verges (@ua14) October 9, 2015
Here's to you University of Minnesota Board of Regents! You stepped up and got this thing done when previous BOR's would have sat on their hands and hemmed and hawed about 80% fundraising goals (because that's what that was, a goal not a rule) or how the Teague mess meant now wasn't the right time, etc, etc. In the end the decision was so non-controversial to the BOR that they approved it without discussion as a consent agenda item (which is why I had trouble figuring out when it would be approved).
Behind schedule fundraising was not an issue
So far, the U has raised less than half the cost — about $76.5 million — from donors. Its original goal was to have 80 percent of the money in hand before breaking ground.
But President Eric Kaler and Dean Johnson, the board’s chairman, said they were eager to proceed with the project, already delayed for months over concerns about cost and gender-equity issues.
The U plans to borrow the bulk of the funds, $89.5 million, through long-term debt that will be repaid by the athletics department.
"We want to break ground before it freezes this year," Kaler said Thursday. "We’re really committed to moving this forward."
The momentum led to a touch of hyperbole:
Regent Darrin Rosha said there is risk in starting construction with such a fundraising shortfall, but he said the U might as well disband its sports program if it can't commit to excellence.
"I think this is necessary to be competitive," Rosha said.
What will the center look like?
Athletes Village will be built next to the current indoor football practice facility, where the track is now.
The 320,000-square-foot project is composed of three buildings: an indoor football practice center, a weight room and a center for excellence, which includes men's and women's basketball practice courts and academic space.
The new Athletes Village will temporarily force the Gophers track teams off campus to Hamline and Concordia universities in St. Paul, while their throwers will practice at a new spot on campus.
The U since has committed to building a competition-level track somewhere on the U's East Bank campus. Kaler plans to borrow as much as $20 million for the track and any gender-equity remedies the Title IX review might require.
Most of the project’s space is devoted to football and basketball. The design includes a hall of fame, hydrotherapy, auditorium, strength and conditioning space, sports medicine, recruiting rooms and offices for the two high-profile sports.
Students in all the U’s intercollegiate sports, about 725 athletes in all, will have access to a new "Center for Excellence," which will include nutrition and dining facilities, classrooms and tutoring space. Goetz noted the project would benefit all Gophers athletes by relieving congestion in the older buildings, where all teams now compete for practice space.
This is NOT coming from your tax dollars
Kaler said it was important to note that the athletics department and donations would cover all of the costs. "These resources are not coming from tuition," he said. "They’re not coming from state [funds]." He said fundraising for the project will continue.
I don't want to hear that nonsense.
Something important got cut...
The $166 million price tag is down from an earlier $190 million figure as the U held off on plans for football linemen practice space and additional skyway connections between buildings. Those additions could come later, along with a new roof for the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex and updates to the sports administrative building.
Not the fat guy practice field!
Well, I suppose if they had to...
This is really good news! It's taken a while, but the most important facilities project since TCF Bank Stadium is now under way.