Plans for new Football Center announced
FAYETTEVILLE - A new football center designed to meet the modern needs of a program competing in the nation's most competitive athletic conference is being planned for Razorback Football it was announced by University of Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long on Wednesday.
Plans for the football center include construction of a new locker room, team meeting rooms, athletic training room, equipment room, a student-athlete lounge and study area, coaches offices, a recruiting reception area and a football museum celebrating the tradition of Razorback Football. The proposed football center would be constructed immediately south of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium adjacent to the Walker Family Training Center. Football practice fields currently at that location would be re-located to the south side of the Walker Family Training Center. Preliminary plans for the football center were developed in conjunction with an ongoing facilities master plan being developed for Razorback Athletics.
While estimates on the needed funding for the project have not been fully developed, the football center would be funded solely by private donations. No University or tax-payer funds would be used in the completion of the football center.
"We are excited to share plans for a new football center that will meet the needs of our student-athletes and help us ensure Razorback Football remains competitive in the SEC and nationally," Long said. "While Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium remains one of the finest stadiums in the nation, we have been bypassed by numerous programs in other football-related facilities designed to provide student-athletes with the resources they need to succeed on and off the field. The construction of the football center is important to the continued success of our football program and the overall growth of Razorback Athletics."
In January, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Populous, Polk Stanley Wilcox and Modus Studio as the architectural team to work in conjunction with Razorback Athletics and University Facilities Management to develop a facility master plan and develop architectural drawings of a proposed football center. Once plans are finalized they will be submitted to the Campus Design and Review Board before being forwarded to the Board of Trustees for final approval. Pending approval, no timetable has been determined for the beginning of construction or completion of the football center.
Razorback Football is currently housed in the Broyles Athletic Center, a facility originally designed to accommodate the then-separate men's athletic department including multiple sports and administrative offices. The proposed football center would address several areas limited in the current layout. The athletic training room would allow members of the athletic training staff to work more efficiently and effectively in providing preventative and rehabilitative medical care to student-athletes. The Razorbacks' current football locker room is split into two divided dressing areas. The football center would include a single dressing area that can accommodate the entire football team. In addition to the athletic training room and locker room, the new football center would include expanded equipment room and meeting room space.
"A new football facility will be tremendous for our student-athletes," Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino said. "The ability to centralize our football operations will be utilized by our coaching staff as part of our comprehensive teaching and player development program. An expansive athletic training room will help better facilitate the needs of our student-athletes. Our plans to construct a new football facility clearly demonstrate the strong commitment from Chancellor Gearhart and Jeff Long in providing our student-athletes and coaches with the facilities it takes to build a championship program."
Long announced on Wednesday that fundraising for the football center is underway including a major $10 million challenge grant issued by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. The private foundation located in Las Vegas, Nev., has been a long-time supporter of the University of Arkansas and Razorback Athletics including providing the signature gift for the renovation and expansion of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Foundation's $10 million grant for the football center is designed to generate additional financial support and is contingent on the University securing the remaining funding for the project.
"As needs arise to help the Arkansas Razorbacks remain competitive in the Southeastern Conference, we felt it important to make this gift and issue this challenge to the Razorback Faithful," Chairman of the Foundation's Board of Trustees Fred W. Smith said. "The Trustees of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation believe in Jeff Long's leadership and vision. We also believe in Coach Bobby Petrino and the direction he is taking the Razorback football program. We must continue to give Razorback student-athletes the best facilities possible and enable them to compete and succeed at the highest levels. We are confident Razorbacks everywhere will do their part to meet this challenge and ensure the program's future success, and we are very proud to continue to do our part."
Long said the University has already secured an additional $2 million in support to help match the Reynolds Foundation challenge grant.
"Once again the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has stepped forward to provide support of a project that will positively impact Razorback student-athletes," Long said. "The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation continues a long tradition of funding for Arkansas projects that foster growth and development for our entire state. We are grateful to Fred W. Smith and the Reynolds Foundation trustees for their leadership and commitment to our program, our University and our state. The $10 million challenge grant of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation will provide significant funding while encouraging other Razorback supporters to step forward to help us with this important facility."