Gophers' new plan to upgrade facilities estimated to cost $190 million
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MINNEAPOLIS -- University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague seems to be going almost all-in when it comes to his newly unveiled athletic facilities upgrade plan.
Teague went before the university's Board of Regents Wednesday to present the first part of a proposed $190 million, six to eight-year building plan.
The expansive and aggressive proposal includes a new football practice complex, men's/women's basketball facility, Olympic sports indoor facility, outdoor track, women's gymnastics facility, wrestling training facility, training table and a new academic center.
"These aren't wants. These are needs," Teague said, speaking to a group of reporters at the McNamara Alumni Center shortly after his Board of Regents presentation.
The upgrades will be centered in the location where the Gophers' Bierman athletic building, football, baseball and softball complexes is currently situated on the northwest end of campus.
Teague, who has headed up the 'U' athletic program since June 2012, speculated earlier in the year that the initial phase of the full project would cost between $80-120 million. But the final estimate came in well above that figure - a development Teague admitted he had anticipated.
"I probably thought it would be a lot more than that all along," Teague said. "I think you guys asked me that I probably just threw that number out into the air ... I know it sounds like a lot of money, but it's just what things cost now. I wasn't surprised at all that we landed at this number, but I do feel good about being cognizant of expenses."
Teague was not overstating when he bemoaned the fact that portions of the athletic program's current facilities, many of which are 20-30 years or older, have become vastly outdated.
The Gophers' indoor practice field at the Gibson-Nagurski football complex is primarily used by coach Jerry Kill's football team, but several of the university's other teams share the field in the winter. This results in a glaring issue of overcrowding. Plus, the 28-year-old facility is equipped with a notoriously leaky and peeling roof. During a wrestling camp being held at the field this week, pools of water could be seen on several of the wrestling mats.
Former Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith never missed an opportunity to longingly preach about the school's need for a separate practice facility. While Smith's constant cry for practice facility could sometimes be numbing and was never answered in his tenure, the Gophers still lag behind the majority of the Big Ten. Minnesota and Northwestern are the only teams in the conference without a basketball practice facility.
"We need to get caught up. It's been difficult," Teague said. "I don't think it's been something that's been awful for us, but it's something that we've got to get past. We need these facilities in order to really compete head-to-head, especially in a handful of sports that are behind."
The project's high cost brings about the obvious question of where is the money going to come from? Teague mentioned that "no real number" has been set yet as to how many fundraising dollars have already been committed. The Gophers do not yet have a lead donor for the upgrades, but Teague is targeting multiple primary sources.
"I'm trusting if we sell the big vision we will have a great response," Teague said. "We hope there will still be a handful of lead donors that will be heavily involved in it. We'll have some other revenue possibly coming in with the Big Ten that can help with it as well."
Teague mentioned that the six to eight year building estimate was a rough approximation, and could take longer to complete to its full extent.