Athletic Department outlines plans for South Campus

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At the second annual Michigan Sports Business Conference on Friday, Athletic Director Dave Brandon discusses improvement plans for improvement of the University's athletic campus. The event was held at the Ross School of Business. Buy this photo

By Alicia Adamczyk, Daily News Editor
Published October 18, 2013

At the second annual Michigan Sports Business Conference held Friday at the Ross School of Business, Athletic Director Dave Brandon and other Athletic Department administrators explained upcoming renovations to the University’s athletic campus and delved into fundraising plans for the 16 improvement projects.

The projects, which Brandon said will “touch every single one of our student-athletes,” were broken down into regions. As reported previously, in the northern area, which encompasses the traditional athletic campus from Crisler Arena and Michigan Stadium to Schembechler Hall on State Street, about 400,000 square feet of new space will be constructed, at an estimated price of $140 million in construction costs.

These estimates do not include the planning costs, which include architecture fees, and are expected to add about 30 to 40 percent to total expenses.

The southern region, which currently houses the tennis facilities and women’s gymnastics program, will add roughly 308,000 square feet of new space, at a cost of about $120 million. The University’s golf course connects the two regions and will also undergo renovations.

Projects also include the construction of a field hockey team center and stadium, a multipurpose team center and new administrative offices. The Stephen Ross Academic Center will be expanded, Schembechler Hall will be reconstructed and new training facilities will be built.

A new soccer and rowing team center will be built in the south, along with a lacrosse stadium, training center and an outdoor track.

Brandon said the Athletic Department wanted to improve conditions for all of Michigan’s 31 programs to encourage even better recruits to commit to Michigan, even in less lucrative sports. The department is hoping to create a consistent experience among all programs.

“The question that all of them ask themselves is, ‘What is the commitment level this institution has for my sport,’ ” Brandon said. “Their sport, in their mind, is the most important sport.”

Brandon, while noting that each Michigan football game generates an estimated $14 million in economic benefit to the region, stressed the importance of the financial opportunity of an enhanced athletic campus. In order to hold conference tournaments and championship events, there are standards the facilities of each sport must live up to, he said.

“We have an exciting opportunity to be a destination venue that can bring excitement, attention and dollars to this community,” he said. “We want to have the types of facilities that afford us the opportunity to host those championships.”

Chrissi Rawak, Michigan’s senior associate athletic director for development, said the fundraising for the new buildings is unique as compared to projects at other universities because instead of fundraising for each individual project, the money will be raised for all 16 projects at once.

“We’re buying into one vision,” Rawak said, referencing former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler’s classic “the team, the team, the team” mentality.

Though all donations will be collected in one pot, the individual donor’s name will go to the program he or she is passionate about. Rawak pointed to University alum Stephen Ross, who donated a historic $100 million for the campus, as evidence that fundraising is going well. The University’s Board of Regents approved naming the new campus the Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus at Friday’s Board of Regents meeting at the University’s Flint campus.

Plans for the projects began three years ago, and Rawak estimates they will be completed in the next five to seven years.

The first project, construction of new softball facilities, will be completed in December. Construction of the field hockey stadium will begin immediately following the completion of its season next month, according to Rob Rademacher, associate athletic director for facilities.

Rawak said the Athletic Department will put aside $250,000 a year to proactively address the increased operation costs that will result from the addition of new buildings.

Contrary to rumors, student-athletes will not live in separate athletic dorms, but will remain integrated in dorms on campus. Brandon also addressed transportation issues, saying the department is working on integrating plans for future transportation services and solving problems with parking.