Bruce Rasmussen refrains from calling it the men's basketball practice facility.
The Creighton athletic director doesn't discount that success in men's basketball attracted prospective donors for the project. Nor does he dismiss Creighton's need to update its men's practice facilities.
But in Rasmussen's mind, the new facility will benefit all of Creighton's student-athletes.
“Calling this building a men's basketball practice facility is misnaming it,” Rasmussen said. “Nebraska has a building it calls its Championship Center. That's probably a good term for this because it will have academic support, strength and conditioning, athletic training and nutrition all in the same building.
“And it will be utilized by all of our student-athletes.”
Creighton announced in late August that it intended to build the athletic facility. The school's Board of Trustees approved the $10.5 million project Oct. 1, as well as a $15.5 million renovation of the Harper Center to accommodate a move of the College of Business Administration to that building.
The new athletic facility, which is being designed by DLR Group architectural firm and will be built by Peter Kiewit Construction, will consist of between 38,000 to 41,000 square feet. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2013, with the facility available for use by late winter or early spring of 2014.
“We could start some site preparation this winter,” Rasmussen said, “but I don't think we'll see much activity until the weather allows next spring.”
The facility's location will be on one of two sites south of the Ryan Center, which houses most of the school's athletic department as well as D.J. Sokol Arena.
One location would put it adjacent to the Ryan Center, while the other would put it about two blocks south near the corner of 19th and Cass Streets in a space that is currently a university parking lot.
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Other sites were eliminated during the preliminary design phase, Rasmussen said.
“We looked at 13 sites, and they all had pluses and minuses,” Rasmussen said. “The two sites we've come down to have their positives and their negatives, but to me, location was down the priority list.
“It's about the quality of the facility and what we put in it. If we have ‘X' number of dollars and one site is going to cost you a million dollars more than another site, I'd rather put that million into the building and have it not at my preferred location.”
What Creighton will put in the facility is still in the design stage, Rasmussen said.
“There are certain things that we consider absolutes,” he said, “and we're working around those right now.”
The absolutes make up the facility's basic features. It will include two basketball courts, locker rooms, coaches' offices and a video room. The latter will be available for athletes in all sports.
There will be a weight room, which will include state-of-the-art equipment, as well as an athletic training area that will include underwater treadmills and hot and cold tubs.
“All the latest in athletic training,” Rasmussen said.
The facility also will house an expanded academic learning center for all student-athletes.
“It will be much better,” he said, adding tongue-in-cheek, “and that's hard to believe considering what we now have.”
Creighton's current athletic learning center consists of some converted classrooms on the ground floor of the Vinardi Center, which has served as a campus athletic hub since 1915. Until the Ryan Center opened in 2009, Vinardi housed most of the school's athletic personnel.
It still serves as the full-time home of the men's basketball program, with the Creighton women practicing there when Sokol is unavailable, particularly during volleyball season. The school's main weight room and athletic training area are still at Vinardi, though the Ryan Center has smaller areas for both.
Schools across the country are building facilities such as the one Creighton plans, and some are extravagant in what they offer. Rasmussen said his goal is to provide things that might be attractive to potential student-athletes but not at the expense of more practical features.
“We've looked at a lot of other facilities,” Rasmussen said. “A lot of the extras you see, the things that provide a ‘wow factor,' aren't necessary for a coach to conduct a practice. But they do set you apart, and we're certainly taking a look at those things.
“But we're looking at it from what adds quality. I doubt if we'll have an iPad in every locker, but we're going to make certain the athletic learning center has quality study areas and equipment. In the gym, we'll make sure we do a good job with lighting and video capabilities in addition to recognizing the history of Creighton basketball.
“Those are things that can set us apart and make a statement about what we think is important.”
In that regard, Rasmussen said, the new facility will provide prospective recruits in all sports a sense that Creighton is committed to their total college experience. The weight room and athletic training areas are important in what he calls prehab and rehab in injury prevention and treatment. The academic learning center will provide for the educational needs.
“I would rather put a quarter of a million dollars into an underwater treadmill than that same amount in iPods and flat-screen TVs,” he said. “That would be a statement as to what's important for us.”
One thing that excites Rasmussen about either of the proposed locations is the convenience factor for student-athletes. Most of Creighton's student-athletes reside in dorms on the east side of campus. Morrison Stadium, the school's soccer facility, is located just south of the Ryan Center.
Creighton will soon open the Rasmussen Fitness and Sports Center. The facility will be used by student-athletes in some sports for practice as well as providing the entire Creighton community with fitness opportunities.
“What I think will make us unique is that where people practice, where they locker, where their coach's offices are, where their dorm rooms are, where they learn will all be within a block or two of this facility,” Rasmussen said. “The convenience of having everything so close will make this a unique situation.”
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