COLLEGE PARK — University of Maryland’s athletic department officially announced plans for a $36 million practice facility at a press conference on Oct. 15.
The project should take approximately three years to complete, and will be privately funded, Athletic Director Damon Evans said. $19 million has already been raised for the project, and Tuesday started the initial public fundraising campaign. Longtime booster Harvey Sanders has been the main fundraiser for this initiative.
“(Mark Turgeon and Brenda Frese) are two of the best coaches and recruiters in the country,” Evans said. “So just think what they will be able to do with this facility.”
Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mark Turgeon and Women’s Basketball Head Coach Brenda Frese joined Evans on the Xfinity Center’s main court for the announcement and reveal of the rendering of the facility. Turgeon was especially emphatic, pumping his fists like he just won a big game as he walked to the podium.
“There were many days I gave up on the building,” Turgeon said. “Even a year ago, I told Damon quit talking about the practice facility because it’s not going to happen.”
The 60,000 square foot facility will be adjacent and connected to the Xfinity Center, and will feature two full-sized basketball courts, a strength and conditioning facility, new locker rooms and lounges. The facility will also allow for upgraded locker rooms, sports medicine facilities for some of Maryland’s Olympic sports and allow the arena to host more events and concerts.
Besides the modern and state of the art equipment, the most important part of the project is that it will eliminate the scheduling conflicts the teams sometimes face by also having to practice in the Xfinity Center. When Turgeon was preparing his team for a game against Seton Hall last December, the arena was closed for graduation rehearsals and commencement ceremonies. The building his team was supposed to practice in had a roof leak and they had to scramble to find a window to practice in another building.
With the new facility, that won’t happen. Both teams will have 24-hour access to facility, and will be able to work out any time they want outside of regular practice time. Frese said both basketball teams already play in one of the best arenas in the country, and will now be able to say the same about the practice facility.
“This facility is a game changer,” Frese said. “We’ve been able to attract the best players in the country year in and year out, and now to have a practice facility to match it is an exciting day.”
The announcement comes as Maryland nears the end of construction on Cole Fieldhouse, which turned the old basketball arena into an indoor facility for the football team. The indoor practice field was completed in 2017, with the rest of the football performance center scheduled to open next year and the collaborative sports medicine wing the year after that. Initial costs of the building were $155 million but have now risen to $210 million, Evans told reporters last month.
“I believe as an athletic department that we’ve got to continue to push and move forward and grow,” Evans said of undergoing both projects at once. “Our basketball programs are important to us, the history and tradition that we have. I believe that we have the fan base and the support out there to do so.”
Both basketball teams kick off their season next month with high expectations. The men’s team is projected to be the second-best team in the Big Ten behind defending conference champion Michigan State, and senior guard Anthony Cowan and sophomore forward Jalen Smith were both named preseason All-Big Ten. The women’s team will be the favorites to win its fifth Big Ten regular season title in six seasons, and return nearly 90 percent of its scoring from a group that went 29-5 last year.
“This building is not about keeping up with the Joneses,” Turgeon said. “It’s an arms race in college athletics, but this building is needed.”