Earlier today, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved Gopher Athletics' plan to construct three new buildings and renovate several others to create a new Athletes Village on its existing Dinkytown footprint. The Board's approval included a financing plan for a new, competition-level track on the East Bank of the University's campus.
"Today is a wonderful day for the University of Minnesota and for Gopher Athletics," said University President Eric Kaler. "Our 720 Gopher student-athletes need more space to study, more opportunities to grow as people, and more areas to train and practice. These new facilities address all of those needs. I'm grateful for the Board's approval today so this project can continue moving forward."
"This is a major step forward for Gopher Athletics. Our Athletes Village will significantly improve the college experience of our student-athletes for many years to come," said Interim Director of Athletics Beth Goetz. "Investing in this project and building facilities that give Gopher student-athletes the greatest opportunity to achieve greatness in the classroom, in competition and throughout the rest of their lives reinforces our department's commitment to always make them our top priority."
Today's approval of the Athletes Village plan means the project can now officially move into its construction phase. The University intends to kick off that phase with a ceremonial groundbreaking event in the weeks to come, though an exact date has not yet been announced.
"Now that the Board has given this project its approval, we are excited to get to work. We are going to plan a ceremonial groundbreaking in the next few weeks and will finalize construction plans with our partners and the University immediately," said Goetz.
While enthusiastic about the continued progress toward realizing the vision for the Athletes Village, Goetz also stressed that there is plenty of work left to do.
"This is no doubt an exciting time for Gopher Athletics, but we need continued support as we fundraise the remaining total for this project and build these new facilities over the course of the next 18 to 24 months," said Goetz.
Regent Dean Johnson, who serves as the Board's chairman, has advocated for the Athletes Village project and its benefits to the University and Gopher Athletics since the vision for the project was originally shared with the Board two years ago.
"I believe that outreach is a critical part of what the University needs to do, and Gopher Athletics plays a big part in reaching people throughout the state and beyond," said Johnson. "I have supported this project from the start because I think it will not only give our student-athletes more opportunities to be successful on the field of play, but it will also give them more opportunities to succeed in everything they do away from the field. Both of those are good for our student-athletes, our University and the state of Minnesota."
The most visible changes to campus as a result of today's news will be three new buildings rising on the northeast corner of 15th Avenue Southeast and 5th Street Southeast.
The cornerstone of the project is the new, 60,000-square-foot Land O'Lakes Center for Excellence, which will house a new academic center, nutrition center and leadership center. This new structure will provide significantly more space for all 720 Gopher student-athletes, more than doubling the size of the current academic center, transforming on-campus student-athlete development opportunities, and providing Gopher Athletics' first centralized training table to feed all student-athletes and host nutrition programs.
Sharing a building with the Land O'Lakes Center for Excellence will be the Basketball Development Center, which will become the hub from both women's and men's basketball at the U of M, with practice courts, locker rooms, training rooms and teaching spaces for both programs.
The project will also build the new everyday home for the Gopher football program. A new indoor practice facility, with enough room for the team to fully practice year-round, will not only provide Gopher football with a modern facility, but will also open up more space in the existing Gibson-Nagurski indoor facility for other Gopher student-athletes. Adjacent to the indoor practice facility, the Football Performance Center will include strength and conditioning space, a locker room and meeting rooms for football student-athletes.
After these new structures take shape, plans will shift to existing buildings - the Bierman Field Athletic Building and the Gibson-Nagurski complex. These buildings will be renovated to provide more practice space, meeting rooms and offices for many other Gopher programs and student-athletes, ultimately having a direct, positive impact on every Gopher program.
During construction of the Athletes Village, planning will continue to establish a competition-level track on the East Bank of campus. This will provide a new home for women's and men's track and field at the U of M and will allow those programs to once again host major meets. The current Bierman Track has not been suitable for high-level competition for more than a decade.
For more details on the Athletes Village, please visit NothingShortOfGreatness.com.
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