College Athletics Facilities Round-Up: October 2023 Part I

Welcome to the College Athletics Construction Roundup! In this bi-weekly series, Business of College Sports brings you the latest updates on the construction of intercollegiate athletics facilities from across the nation. October has arrived with some exciting developments, so let’s dive right into the action.

Stadiums

UCF’s $88M Grant for a New Stadium Tower

The University of Central Florida is set to make a substantial addition to FBC Mortgage Stadium. An $88 million grant from a tourism tax fund will help finance the construction of a new west stadium tower. This expansion project aims to enhance the stadium’s capacity, offer more suite options, and introduce new premium seating and events space. Beyond game day, the new facilities will also be used to attract additional events to the stadium. The grant will be drawn from the excess revenues of the Tourist Development Tax over a nine-year period. 

St. Thomas’ Fundraising Success and Multi-Use Arena

St. Thomas’ fundraising campaign has received a remarkable $75 million gift from Lee and Penny Anderson to support the construction of a multi-use arena. The funds will also be used to develop infrastructure that supports college athletes’ mental health, address enrollment trends, and more. As of this summer, the department has already raised $90 million towards its $131 million goal for Anderson Arena, with plans to break ground in the spring and open in the fall of 2025. The move from DIII to DI is part of St. Thomas’ strategy to raise its profile from regional to national. The university is also addressing the shift towards more female-heavy enrollment, with a focus on Title IX considerations.

Minnesota’s Renovation of 3M Arena at Mariucci

The University of Minnesota’s 3M Arena at Mariucci has undergone a $14 million renovation, bringing modern improvements to the facility. The upgrades include a modern NCAA-sized ice sheet, new dasher boards, an advanced lighting system, and the addition of 17 premium rink-side “dream seats” with comfortable chairs. Gophers Head Coach Bob Motzko highlights the transition from larger to smaller ice sheets, emphasizing a more physical and offensive game. This adjustment aligns with current trends in hockey and will also enhance the fan experience.

Football

Illinois State’s new Indoor Practice Facility

Illinois State University held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially debut its new Indoor Practice Facility. The facility is a heated, opaque dual-membrane fabric air dome with insulation pockets designed for year-round use. It boasts a 100-yard practice field with artificial turf, providing a significant benefit to college athletes across multiple sports. This state-of-the-art facility is a substantial addition to the campus’s sports infrastructure.

Basketball

Saint Louis’ O’Loughlin Family Champions Center

Saint Louis University held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $20 million, 25,000-square-foot O’Loughlin Family Champions Center. The facility includes a student success suite, performance nutrition center, team dining suite, basketball operations suites, college athlete development programs, and technology suites. The facility will officially open to athletes later this month, providing them with a cutting-edge environment to excel both in the classroom and on the field.

UC Davis’ Facilities Upgrades

UC Davis has unveiled several facility upgrades that occurred over the summer. These improvements include an expanded and upgraded playing surface for the volleyball and basketball programs, new baskets and shot clocks at the University Credit Union Center, a new sound system at UC Davis Health Stadium, and a renovation of the playing surface at Phil Swimley Field at Dobbins Stadium, among other enhancements. These improvements reflect the commitment by the university to provide its college athletes with the best possible facilities.

Softball

Oklahoma’s Expanded Capacity for Love’s Field

The University of Oklahoma has exceeded its original capacity projection for Love’s Field softball stadium. The stadium’s capacity has now increased from the initial estimate of 3,000 to 4,200 fans. This includes 3,543 fixed seats and an additional 657 standing-room spaces. With the additions, Sooners Athletic Director Joe Castiglione emphasized the university’s dedication to meeting the high demand for OU Softball while maintaining a top-quality fan experience.

North Dakota’s Memorial Village II

North Dakota is embarking on the Memorial Village II project, which includes a new softball facility capable of seating more than 500 spectators. This initiative is part of a larger development that encompasses market-rate housing and mixed-use facilities. The goal is to have a playable softball field ready by the end of next summer, with apartments available for lease by March 2025. The softball facility will be named in honor of Dave and Alexa Albrecht, who provided lead funding for the project.

Volleyball

Oregon’s On-Campus Beach Volleyball Facility

Oregon’s campus planning committee has approved a site recommendation for an on-campus beach volleyball facility. Once approved by the university president, the design process will commence, followed by further approvals from the planning committee. This development will cater to the needs of the beach volleyball program and expand Oregon’s athletic facilities as a whole.

Swim & Dive

Michigan State’s Recreational Pool

Michigan State University is moving forward with its original plans to build a recreational pool rather than a competition pool. Advocates for the Battle for Spartan Swim & Dive group fell short of their $26.5 million fundraising goal to reinstate the swimming and diving programs. The university cites fundraising challenges linked to recent news regarding former Football Head Coach Mel Tucker’s departure. Despite the setback, the group remains committed to working towards a return of a swim and diving program at MSU.

Tennis

Sam Houston’s New Tennis Facility

Sam Houston State University has broken ground on a new tennis facility, set to be named in honor of supporters Chuck and Wanda Beckner. This development is part of Sam Houston’s commitment to raising the profile of its athletics programs as it moves into Conference USA and plays at the Division I level. The facility marks a significant step forward for the university’s tennis program. 

Golf

Western Michigan’s Bergeron Golf Performance Center

Western Michigan University has received a generous $1.5 million gift from alumnus Jeff Bergeron and his wife, Stephanie. This gift supports the construction of the Jeff and Stephanie Bergeron Golf Performance Center, located within the Donald “J” Seelye Athletic Center. The performance center will include dedicated spaces for chipping and putting, a hitting lab, a putting lab, and a locker room for the Broncos women’s golf team. The additions will significantly enhance the golf program’s capabilities and facilities.

That’s a wrap on Part I of the October edition of BCS’s College Athletics Construction Roundup. Stay tuned for more exciting updates in our next installment later this month as the world of collegiate sports facilities continues to evolve.

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