April 16, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - Official groundbreaking ceremonies for the UConn Basketball Development Center were held on Tuesday afternoon. The Center will be a dedicated, new practice facility for UConn's championship men's and women's basketball programs and will be located right behind Gampel Pavilion on the site of the former Memorial Stadium.
The event, which occurred a week after the UConn women's basketball team brought home their eighth national title, was attended by officials from the University, the UConn Foundation, alumni and donors and by several present and formal student-athletes as well as members of the student body.
"This is a landmark day for UConn," said UConn President Susan Herbst. "Our coaches and athletes have made UConn basketball the envy of the nation. They earned this facility with their hard work and their dedication."
The UConn Basketball Development Center is also a testament to the strength of the University's alumni and supporters whose donations are providing the financial support.
"This facility is being built by our donors," said President Herbst. "We are so grateful to them for their support as we make our way to being one of the highest ranked research universities in the nation."
"This facility is going to be a great landmark for our University and for our student-athletes and alumni," said men's basketball Coach Kevin Ollie, who expressed his gratitude to former head men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun and women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma for their leadership and to the alumni and donors who supported the project. "This building is going up as a foundation for the future of our program, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. "
"When I came to Connecticut, it was because of the people and it's still about the people," said Auriemma. "Having said that, we have the best people and the best students and they deserve the best facility. If we are going to be the No.1 school in America, then we should be the No. 1 school in everything we do, and this building helps us do that."
Auriemma also played down concerns over conference realignment. "None of that means anything. We are in a league of our own and that's where we are going to stay."
The new 78,000 square foot facility will feature practice gyms for the men's and women's basketball programs, along with locker rooms, coaches' offices, and area for academic support, video analysis, sports medicine and strength training. The facility will allow basketball student athletes to practice, train, study and dine in one location.
The facility is one of the projects supported through the fundraising campaign launched in September 2009 by the UConn Foundation. So far, the Foundation has received about $28 million in donations and pledges for construction of the new facility, which is estimated to cost about $35 million.
Fundraising for the project has been led by the Foundation's Athletic Campaign Steering Committee, chaired by alumnus Robert Skinner, `93 CLAS, who is also a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors. "When the men's team won the championship in 2011, there was talk about Coach Calhoun`s possible retirement, but once you taste greatness, you don't want to lose it," said Skinner. "Greatness is not an accident. We knew we needed a great basketball facility and we worked together to make it happen. I couldn't be more excited about the program and its future."
Construction on the facility is expected to be completed in 2014.