UA goes forward with facilities


FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ football operations center is currently under construction with completion tentatively set for next summer.

But the project, which also includes two outdoor practice fields which should be complete in time for the 2012 season, isn’t the only item the Razorbacks are working on.

Arkansas announced Friday it is moving ahead with plans for three more major construction projects for the athletic department. It includes a basketball practice facility, a student-athlete academic and dining hall, and a baseball and track indoor training facility.

All three facilities were part of Arkansas’ master plan, which was unveiled last October.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long described the projects as “essential” Friday.

“As the football center continues to progress, we are taking the necessary steps for the planning of the next three facilities in our Athletics Facilities Master Plan,” Long said in a statement Friday. “The basketball practice facility, student-athlete success center and the baseball and track indoor training facility are essential to the future success of our program. “Our focus remains on providing student-athletes with the resources they need to win in the Southeastern Conference and nationally.”

The athletic department recently issued requests for qualifications for the design team and construction manager for the three projects, which is required before receiving approval from the Board of Trustees. The projects will be funded by athletic revenues, gifts and bond proceeds from a future bond issue. No university funds will be used for the projects, according to the statement released Friday morning.

The timeline for the projects will be contingent on approval from the Board of Trustees and successful fundraising efforts.

The basketball practice facility has been a topic of discussion since last spring, when Mike Anderson was hired to lead the program. Arkansas says the facility, which will be 70,000 to 85,000 square feet, will be built across from Bud Walton Arena. It will include practice courts, locker rooms, weight rooms and meeting rooms for the men’s and women’s basketball teams with a projected price tag of $20 to $25 million.

The baseball and track indoor facility will include practice space for the baseball team and throwing areas for the track and field. The facility is projected to be 40,000 to 45,000 square feet and cost $7.75 to $9.625 million.

The student-athlete success center will be a 47,000 to 58,000 square foot facility which will “help address the academic, nutritional, personal and professional development of more than 460 student-athletes,” according to Arkansas’ press release. The facility will cost an estimated $18 to $23 million to construct.

“We are grateful to the Donald. W. Reynolds Foundation and its chairman, Fred W. Smith, for their $1.25 million gift toward the student-athlete success center,” Long said Friday. “We hope others will join them in financially supporting these projects that will benefit more than 460 student-athletes annually.”