“If you build it, they will come.”
The CSU Athletic Department is hoping that the same idea that rang true in “Field of Dreams” will come true for the Rams, as Wednesday athletic director Paul Kowalczyk announced that $20 million worth of athletic facilities will begin construction this July, with the finished product expected in the fall of 2009.
The university is banking on two new buildings, an indoor practice facility and an academic training center to help impress recruits and aid in helping CSU reach the upper echelon of the Mountain West Conference and beyond.
“I think you’ll agree they are sharp-looking facilities and really I feel like a father who’s about to have twins. I’m that excited,” Kowalczyk joked while explaining the duration of the process, which has been going on since he came to CSU in April of 2006.
The highlights of the indoor practice facility, projected to cost $13 million, will include a 70-yard synthetic football field, a 70-yard four lane track and a multipurpose gymnasium that can be configured to have one full-size and two half-size basketball courts or two full-length volleyball courts.
The facility will be located east of the Moby Arena Pool and north of the Student Recreation Center, forcing the relocation of the tennis courts currently located in that area to near the Alumni Center across Shields Street.
CSU football coach Steve Fairchild was especially energized to have the indoor field.
“I think that the biggest thing the facility brings is the ability in August and during the season to escape the elements to practice. A practice that is cancelled in the spring can be made up, but during a game week, a practice cancelled or affected by lightning can’t be made up. Now we don’t have to worry about that,” Fairchild said. “Also, it certainly is a benefit to recruiting.”
The two-story academic training center will cost $7 million and will be located south of the McGraw Athletic Center. It will house an 8,307-square-foot strength and conditioning area and a 9,000-square-foot academic area that will be named after Brett and Danette Anderson, who gave a pacesetting donation of $1.5 million in November to the project.
“Certainly from a recruiting standpoint there’s no better tool. Mom and Dad will love the academic portion of that facility, and of course the student athletes will love the weight room because they spend so much time in there,” Kowalczyk said.
The university is supporting the construction through bonded funds and the athletic department will be calling on donors and alumni to raise the $20 million for the project. Kowalczyk said they have already raised $1.785 million.
The facilities will just be for student-athletes, but Kowalczyk mentioned that they would certainly ease the scheduling conflicts that currently affect both health and exercise science students and student recreation.
CSU running back Kyle Bell, an intern with the President’s office who was asked early on in the process to research other school’s practice facilities, said he feels the new facilities compare with any in the Mountain West Conference. His only slight disappointment comes from the fact that he won’t get to use it.
“It sets the bar high for us. This facility may not be the biggest in the nation or the conference, but it puts us right up there to compare with any school out there,” Bell said. “Obviously I wanted to see it be around when I was still in school, but I couldn’t afford to build it myself. It is just great to have been involved and to see this happen.”
Sports writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.