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.
Statements from Gopher head coaches
Head Football Coach Jerry Kill on Football Performance Center & Football Indoor Practice Facility
“Today was a great day for Gopher athletics and for our football program. These new facilities will benefit every student athlete on campus and are a huge piece for us to build and sustain a winning program here at Minnesota. I want to thank the Board of Regents and President Kaler for their support of collegiate athletics, and I also want to thank everyone who worked so diligently to make sure that today’s vote was a successful one. I am looking forward to breaking ground soon.”
Head Women’s Basketball Coach Marlene Stollings on Basketball Development Center
“We have major goals for the Gopher women’s basketball program and I know our fans dream of accomplishing big things as well. Having a dedicated facility, which is something Gopher women’s basketball has never had, is a huge step in achieving those goals. Our new Basketball Development Center is an investment in the long-term success of our program and out student-athletes. We are excited to have a top-tier facility that will enable us to compete at the highest levels.”
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Richard Pitino on Basketball Development Center
“This new facility is huge in the development of our basketball program. Our student-athletes will now have a home where they can study, refuel and train. The flexibility this facility will offer gives them more time to explore academic and volunteer opportunities or develop their job skills for life after basketball. As we continue to build the Gopher men’s basketball program, today’s announcement is a big step forward.”
Head Softball Coach Jessica Allister on Academic Center
“Our student-athletes get a world-class education and work with an amazing academic staff here at Minnesota but, right now, they study in an overcrowded academic center. These new facilities will change that, which is exciting. The academic center will be significantly bigger and full of the latest technology. It will be as good as any academic center in the conference, which will match the education and support staff we have here at Minnesota.”
Head Soccer Coach Stefanie Golan on Nutrition Center
“I am thrilled that we are moving ahead on these new facilities, particularly the nutrition center. We need to ensure our student-athletes are getting accurate nutritional information, eating right and building healthy habits. This nutrition center is going to do all of that and more. Our student-athletes will carry those lessons with them forever and, as role models, they will pass those lessons on to a lot of young athletes.”
Head Women’s Track and Field Coach Matt Bingle on Leadership Center
“Here in the Twin Cities, our student-athletes have opportunities after graduation that aren’t available in most college towns. This new leadership center is going to help us position all of our young women and men to take advantage of those opportunities and prepare for life after graduation. These facilities will go a long way in helping them better balance the heavy time demands of class and competition while preparing themselves to be leaders in the community when they move on from the U.”