Regents approve basketball practice facility
By: Courtney Linehan
CEDAR FALLS - Iowa State University's basketball programs could have a new home as soon as next fall, following the Iowa Board of Regents approval Thursday of plans for a new $8 million practice facility.|
Athletic Director Jamie Pollard and President Greg Geoffroy lauded the benefits for student-athletes, who would use a single facility for all practices, weight lifting and team meetings, rather than the cross-campus shuffle they currently experience.
Developer Dickson Jensen agreed to donate two acres of land on which his company would build mirror-image gyms and office space for the men's and women's basketball teams. ISU will then purchase the building for $6.9 million, allocating an additional $1.1 million for related expenses.
Jensen plans to develop the land around the practice facility with restaurants, health and fitness-based shops and a new complex for the All-Iowa Attack AAU basketball program, which he owns.
Basketball coaches Greg McDermott and Bill Fennelly are both on vacation this week and were unavailable for comment. But in a press release last month, both coaches advocated for the facility as a necessary element of competing at an elite level.
"Recruiting the very elite women's basketball player is becoming extremely difficult given our current practice arrangements," Fennelly said. "Our program is at a competitive disadvantage as it relates to state-of-the-art practice and support facilities."
ISU released plans for the facility on July 10, replacing plans for a much costlier practice space that would have been attached to Hilton Coliseum. The initial project, which was proposed in 2006, would have cost upwards of $35 million.
But in February 2007 the university shelved the Hilton addition, determining that because the practice facility would not directly generate revenue its cost would need to be raised through cash donations and from within the athletic department.
The Iowa State media relations department confirmed Thursday that no decision has yet been made as to how the space men's and women's basketball currently occupy at Hilton Coliseum will be reallocated.
The reduced cost of the Jensen project makes funding it more financially reasonable. In its proposal, the university indicated that a combination of athletics gift revenues and short-term master lease financing through the Regents' Master Lease Agreement would cover the cost.
The cost of operation in the first year is estimated at $157,500.
The Ames City Council may also need to approve the project for the sale to go forward.