CU pursues athletic facility improvement
The CU athletic department hopes to breathe new life into its facilities this year, and a recent commitment will provide significant support.
The department began the new year looking to enter its final stages of planning and design on several projects scheduled for completion this year, including an indoor athletic practice bubble.
CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn announced Thursday that a major donation from the Anthony H. Kruse Foundation will enable the university to construct the new practice facility.
“This project reflects the outstanding generosity of numerous donors who all share a vision for competitive excellence,” Bohn said at the annual football preview luncheon. “This is a critical commitment for us at an equally critical time.”
The practice bubble will cover the western third of the football practice fields. The department hopes to complete the structure by the middle of October in order to allow the football team to better prepare during cold weather conditions.
“The bottom line is we are not currently giving our coaches and players what they need to be successful,” said Tom McGann, director for game management and operations. “How else do you get a football team ready during the winter months? It can be a huge disadvantage competitively.”
McGann also said he believes it is important to reach out to club sports and other areas of campus recreation by offering community use of the facility.
“Anytime we can do a project that can impact everyone like this one has the ability to do, it’s a great thing,” McGann said.
The CU athletic department already permits club sports teams to use the artificial practice field whenever it is available.
“Having access to this new facility would definitely benefit our teams and allow us to continue being competitive on a national level,” said Club Sports Director Kris Schoech. “But what’s to say that other CU athletic teams will not want more use of the facility, which would leave us on the bottom of the list.”
Schoech said his main concern is being informed of changes made to the schedule in a timely manner, which has not necessarily been the case in the past.
“We are very grateful to have use of that facility, but it is really hard on our student athletes to adjust when we are bumped off that field,” he said. “I’m hoping that athletics will change their policy, and that we won’t get bumped if we’re penciled in.”
However, Schoech said the athletic department has recently been much more open, honest and forthcoming about sharing facilities than in the past.
“I understand that it is a business over there, and they are going to do what they have to do to be competitive as well,” he said.
But McGann said he remains hopeful that many groups will be able to use the facility.
“If a group has a need, we will be open to it depending on the schedule. We want it to add as much value to the entire campus as possible,” McGann said.
The basketball operations center at the Coors Events Center is another top priority and a project that is long overdue, McGann said.
“The biggest thing is getting the basketball coaches into the Events Center, making it more convenient for them to run practices, meet with players and coach games,” McGann said.
The basketball coaching offices are currently located in Folsom Field, forcing coaches to trek to the Events Center. Instituting the operations center will also allow athletes to have easier access to coaches.
“Being off site slows the coaches down operationally,” McGann said. “It would be like an engineering professor having his office in the school of law. It just doesn’t work that way.”
The operations center will replace the administrative offices currently located in the second-level conference area. Two frequently used rooms on the floor will retain their current functions, holding pre-game events and press conferences. The shift will also allow the athletic department to free up additional space for support staff.
The first deadline is set for the start of the 2007-08 basketball season, but the athletic department hopes to have the project completed by the start of the fall semester.
McGann said these improvements would contribute tremendously to future recruiting as well.
“Having better facilities allows you to make a much better impression when you bring in a recruit,” he said. “This is a project that makes a lot of sense, and it is really going to help us by making things easier for coaches, better for players and great for recruiting.”
Members of the department have worked collectively to assess the conditions of several campus facilities in order to prioritize important needs. The department also plans to upgrade the football locker room and the Varsity Room inside Dal Ward Athletic Center. Private donations will be funding all of the year’s major facilities projects and improvements.
Staff writer Corey Jones can be reached at Corey.firstname.lastname@example.org