Kowalczyk: New facilities will help CSU dream big, reach, strive and succeed

Director of Athletics Paul Kowalczyk introduces CSU's newest athletic facilities Wednesday

Director of Athletics Paul Kowalczyk introduces CSU's newest athletic facilities Wednesday

April 23, 2008

Opening comments:

Thank you. I want to welcome everybody here today, we appreciate it. This is a momentous day for Colorado State University and Ram Athletics. By far, our biggest, most significant facility ever, we're talking in more than 40 years. We're going to add approximately 83,000 square feet and two new buildings with a price tag of $20 million. When I first arrived, the President asked me what we needed to be successful. And of course facilities, quality facilities, are absolutely essential to having any success. I think we've outdone ourselves with not one, but two new facilities that will enhance our student-athlete experience and help our coaches be successful.

The indoor practice facilities as everybody knows is a necessity that will help us both with the weather and scheduling issues and will be used by all sports whether they're in season, or doing out-of-season conditioning. The academic and training center, which will contain the Anderson Academic Center is a perfect complement of mind and body and the student-athlete concept. It reinforces our commitment to academics and our desire to have our student-athletes achieve their athletic potential. And certainly from a recruiting standpoint there's no better tool. Mom and Dad will love the academic portion of that facility and of course the student-athletes will love the weight room because they spend so much time in there.

Right now we want to take the opportunity to thank Brett and Danette Anderson, for their new gift. For Doug and Gene Markley and the Markley family for their donation, and also need to thank Dr. Penley and the Board of Governors for their support. It's no secret that we wouldn't be standing here today without their assistance and their endorsement. They recognized the importance of investing in athletics and what a successful athletics program can do for the university. We believe, all of us believe, that this will help us reestablish our dominance in the Mountain West Conference and nationally in all of our sports. It illustrates how serious we are about the future of Ram Athletics and shows that we have come to play. The Board of Governors approved bonding, which allows the start, which is a major commitment unlike any this university has made before. And still, still, we have to pay for it. That means our alums, our donors, our friends, our fans need to stop looking for somebody else to help. They need to take ownership in this program and step up in a big way like the Andersons and like the Markleys.

Again, these new facilities will benefit all of our programs. It will certainly help us in recruiting. And importantly, will help the image of this university and this athletic department. And it's first class. There's no more inferiority complex here at CSU and we can dream big, we can reach, strive and succeed.

The indoor practice facility will be approximately 66,000 square feet. It will have a 70-yard playing field. A separate section for a basketball court and perpendicular to that two half courts as well as two volleyball courts. We'll also have a four-lane track, a classy entrance lobby, and satellite training and equipment rooms as well as some storage.

The academic and training center will be about 17,000 square feet; 9,000 of that dedicated toward academics and 8,000 dedicated to the weight room. The academic portion will include computer labs, tutorial rooms and offices for the staff. The weight room will have lots of room for lots of weights.

I want to thank Aller-Lingle for their design work, Saunders Construction. I want to thank Jim Stoddard and Facilities and Athletics' own Doug Max for the work they put in. It's only just begun really, folks, but they've done outstanding work so far. We expect to break ground in late July and be completed by the fall of 2009. I think you'll agree they are sharp-looking facilities and really I feel like a father who's about to have twins. I'm that excited. They're fraternal twins, they don't really look alike, but needless to say again we're very excited about it, about the future of Ram Athletics and I want to thank all of you for joining us today. I'll open it up for questions at this point.

You talked about an inferiority complex. Do you think the new facilities will put CSU up to par?

No question. Certainly there are several keys to being successful, one of them is having the right people and place and I think we have that in place right now. Facilities aren't going to get you there but they will help get you there and help you stay there, and we have been behind for years. Of course New Mexico and Wyoming recently just built indoor facilities. This one's been in planning practically from Day 1 when I got here, presented this information to the President. It was in the long-term plans but my hiring and the President's reinforcement and reinvestment in athletics, we really want to get this thing moving as fast as we can. It's a statement about our program and it means we care about ourselves and we're going to go out and recruit the best student-athletes we can and put Colorado State back on the map.

Are you worried about timing with attendance lower at games and the economy?

Not particularly. Again, for us as an institution, and I think our fans realize, this is long overdue and I think they'll be excited about it happening, really any time, now's as good a time as any. We recognize the economic situation and I think the people who can help us with that are in a situation where that won't be as big a factor for them.

How is it being financed?

We're raising money. We're in the process of fundraising and we have $1.785 million in the bank right now and we're in the process of continuing to ask and get to know people and putting ourselves in position.

How does it compare to other MWC facilities?

Well, we'll have 16,000 square feet of usable space because we're not going to trash the old one, that will still be used as well. So I think we'll be better than most and certainly on par with everyone. And everyone will use the new facility, it's not exclusive for any one particular sport. We'll rotate all of our sports in and out of there.

Do you know the exact dimensions of BYU and Wyoming's facilities?

We did have information on that, I don't have it stored in the old memory bank at this point, but we do have that information. Of course, it's not us keeping up with the Joneses so much as making a statement about our program and doing what we need to do to be successful. Every program has different numbers of student-athletes and thus have different needs.

Are the current academic facilities still going to be used?

We're thinking about moving Coloradoan over there... some office space for you. We'll convert that; we're not quite sure what it's going to be quite yet.

The old weight room will remain a weight room?

Correct. We have a million and one different uses for it; we'll have to find out what's the best.

Is the new facility open to any regular students, or just student-athletes?

At this point it will be just for student-athletes. Part of our issue here is scheduling issues for practice. We already bump up against HES, health and exercise science, and recreation and conference planning services for space so this will be a bit of pressure-valve release, so this will be a huge plus for us.

Do you have a timeline/deadline to have the money raised?

We're trying to be as aggressive as we can. We're also working in concert with the university and we're fundraising as well. To me, it's as soon as we possibly can.

Do you have weather concerns? Will it be ready by fall?

That's the plan, 12 to 14 months. We'll see. I don't know that we'll make summer training camp, our '09 training camp for football, but shortly thereafter we'd like to be in the facility. Of course we only have so much control over that because of weather, construction and all the things that go into constructing this.

With the construction, will you still use the intramural gym and other university facilities?

Yes. We'll still have access to that...We will not back off using that facility. And when football's out practicing, when they come inside, right now it creates a serious domino effect when football can't even practice where they're supposed to, so again this will resolve those issues.

Was it a matter of economics or space to get the design you wanted?

You take all those factors into play. We started with what we think we really needed and then we put budgets together and we make decisions along the way. And the way things are going right now, prices are going up as we're standing here and sitting here, we need to get moving on things. It's a balance.

Did you have a number of different bidders?

We had, what, five interviews? Six? It was a long day. We had good bids from different organizations.

At what point did you realize you could take on the project with the funds you currently have?

Well, I never thought there was any question we could do it. $1.75 (million) is a bonus this early in the process.

Why didn't this happen one year ago or six months ago? It can only work so fast, Kelly (Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan). Planning. Planning is part of the process. We're working with the state system, and of the university system as well.

Will it take up parking?

That's not the expectation, no.

Where exactly will the facilities be built?

The academic training center is going to be just over the ramp there on the south side of the arena and the indoor facility will be at the end of Moby. There will be space starting more or less where the tennis courts are currently and the plan is for a new set of tennis courts to be built across the street where the Alumni Association is.

Will the tennis courts be part of this project and funding?

No, that's recreation.

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