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Athletics Facilities Update

I hadn't seen anything definitive on this information, so I thought I would put together what I've been told about plans for changes to our athletics facilities over the next few years.

The completely re-done track and field complex is already underway, but there are some other changes on tap as well that haven't broken ground yet. A multi-sport practice facility (primarily for football, mind you), indoor hitting bays for the golf teams and new facilities for the swimming and diving teams are also on the radar.

One thing that appears to have fallen completely off the radar (for the time being, at least) is any changes to Klockner Stadium. That should make the hill lovers happy.

Track and Field

This one is the most obvious and well known, at least because it has been announced and is well underway. Phase I of this project basically involves infrastructure work and doing everything needed to get ready for the 2012 ACC Track and Field Championships. Phase II is what will really complete the project and make this a top notch facility.

Seating, lights and a scoreboard are part of the plan, but the two biggest changes will likely be the addition of team locker rooms on-site and a significant upgrade to the entrance area of the athletic complex, which also serves as the entrance for Klockner Stadium and Davenport Field.

Football (and Others) Practice Facility

This is the one that most people are probably interested in hearing about. The original plan had called for a "bubble" to be placed over the second practice field behind University Hall (the one closer to the Turf Field that the Field Hockey team plays on). However, that plan was apparently nixed by The University, likely because a bubble wouldn't fit well with what the school is trying to make into an entrance corridor (not that the cheap motel and restaurants across the street help that ambiance either, but that's another story).

So the new plan is that it will be an actual building that will aesthetically fit in with the rest of what is going on at The University. The location (second practice field) remains the same. The inside of the building will still be fairly sparse - it's not going to be a full on facility like that ridiculous thing that Tennessee just built. Part of the reason for that is money (Tennessee's facility cost $39 million; this facility will be around $13 million), but part of the reason is also that we don't need that. The McCue center was recently upgraded with a lot of those extra amenities, and it is all of 50 yards from where this building will be built.

One of the nice things about the new practice facility, other than it being an indoor place for the football team to use (and anyone who attended the third day of open practices this year knows we need it) is that it will be available for all of our field teams to use as necessary. I'm sure the football team will get "dibs," but this is a great (and needed) addition for a lot of our other teams. 

My understanding is that the Virginia Athletics Foundation has raised about $5 million of the $13 million necessary to finish the building. It sounds like construction on the facility should start early next year (January or February) if things continue to move along with the fundraising. Since most people I know hadn't even heard that VAF was raising money for the facility, the fact that we're more than 40% of the way there has to be a good sign.

Golf Complex

Considering our golf teams have both been ranked very highly for the last couple of years, its no surprise that they're looking to get some upgrades to their facilities as well. While the actual location of the addition has not yet been determined, there will be a new building added somewhere at Birdwood that will house, among other things, indoor hitting bays for the teams to practice. It sounds like there will also be some variety of offices (not the coaches' permanent offices, mind you - probably something more like video rooms and whatnot). The project is expected to cost somewhere in the range of $2-4 million.

It sounds like the biggest battle right now is figuring out where to put the building. Anyone who has played Birdwood knows its a gorgeous course and I'm sure they're taking a lot of care in determining where this facility should be built.

Swimming and Diving

Have you ever noticed that the Swimming and Diving team uses basically the same facilities (locker rooms, etc) as the normal patrons of the Aquatic and Fitness Center? Coach Bernardino sure has. So there is a plan on tap to build a small addition onto the AFC that will house locker rooms and other amenities that the S&D teams can have to themselves. It would basically take up the small grassy area between the AFC, the parking lot and Whitehead road. You can pretty clearly see the location on Bing maps.

My understanding is that this facility upgrade isn't likely to happen anytime soon and has been effectively back-burnered. That's not to say that the situation can't change - especially if a nice donor were to step in and give a seed gift. But right now, this project is the furthest down on the list.

Klockner Stadium

This one is a "non-upgrade" situation. There has long been renderings floating around (thanks Facilities Management and the Board of Visitors!) of an additional building being added on the hill at Klockner opposite the existing grandstand. It would house, at least, locker rooms and "luxury suites."

It appears that this project is completely on hold. Whatever the next level is beyond the AFC expansion, that's where this one sits. There's just not a demand for it at the moment and you can't just build suites just to build suites. It wouldn't surprise me if another couple NCAA Titles from the Soccer and Lacrosse teams change that story. But for now, this one is essentially dead in the water.

(Updated 8/31/2011, 10:37 p.m. The indoor practice facility will run $13mm rather than our originally reported $12mm.)