U says Gophers are ready to get back into the sports building game

University of Minnesota’s proposed basketball practice facility (U of M image)

MPR’s Alex Friedrich reports that University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague is pitching a $190 million upgrade to the U’s athletic facilities. Just four years after the U opened $288 million TCF Bank Stadium, three years after the Twins opened Target Field and as the Vikings are building their new billion dollar home–the U’s plans would almost double down on its new sports infrastructure.

The plan is supposed to be entirely financed by private funds. Teague told the U’s regents yesterday that the plan would “change the future of Gopher athletics.”

The plan doesn’t include any new spectator facilities. It’s all about practice and training, not play. “These are needs. Not necessarily wants,” Teague told the regents. “We need this.”

That’s probably a good thing for most fans, particularly those of the high-profile football and basketball teams. The football Gophers were 6-7 last year, and had a 2-6 Big Ten record. Men’s basketball did a little better: they were 8-10 in the Big Ten and tied for 7th in the conference last year. And while they did beat UCLA in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, that couldn’t save coach Tubby Smith’s job.

The plan includes the shiniest objects in the Gopher’s sports firmament: new practice and training facilities for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams and a new training facility for the football Gophers. The new digs are thought to be key to recruiting efforts to upgrade the school’s athletic rosters.

Here’s the rest of the to-do list:

  • Academic Center
  • Training Table
  • Women’s Gymnastics Facility
  • Olympic Sport Indoor Practice Facility
  • Outdoor Olympic Sport Track
  • Wrestling Training Facility

Teague expects it will be 6 to 8 years before the first phase of the project is built.