The Spectrum's Q&A with Athletic Director Allen Greene
UB’s athletic department recently announced plans to begin building a field house on campus. The facility will be a total of 92,000 square feet and cost $18 million. It will be located just past the north end zone of UB Stadium. The athletics department announced Sept. 15 that LeChase Construction would be the contractor on the project. The architect will be CHA, a company based in New York. The project will be paid for through philanthropy and football revenue, according to the press release.
Construction will begin next month with completion expected to be in spring 2019. The facility will feature a full-sized football field. It will also have 6,000 feet of rubber sprinting tracks and pits for jumpers and pole vaulters for the track and field team. The softball team will have motorized hitting tunnels in the field house as well.
The Spectrum interviewed Athletic Director Allen Greene about the field house announcement.
The Spectrum: The website said the $18 million will be paid for through philanthropy and football revenue, what percentage does philanthropy make up of that? Can you provide a more detailed breakdown of where the funding is coming from?
Allen Greene: The Blue and White Fund, which serves as the fundraising arm of UB Athletics, secured approximately one third of the cost in private support to help fund the field house. It’s important to note that these funds were specifically earmarked for the field house by donors. The remaining funds came from the College Football Playoff revenue distribution, which is only possible by participating in Division I football at the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) level.
Q: The press release stated that no state funds will be used, are student fees considered state funds? Is any money from UB students contributing to the field house?
A: Student fees are considered state funds and will not be used to fund this project.
Q: Does the school already have the money for the field house or will it be financed? If it will be financed, how will that be done and for how long?
A: The field house will be financed over a 15-year period and the athletics department is responsible for loan payments during that time using donor money and revenue from the College Football Playoff.
Q: Did the field house play any part in the school's decision to cut programs last spring? Is any money saved from the cut being reinvested into this project?
A: The field house project has been a priority for nearly two decades and serves student-athletes in the same manner as classroom space, libraries or labs for students. This indoor practice space plays a critical role in helping student-athletes prepare for competition and has a direct impact on recruiting the future Bulls.
The decision to discontinue sport offerings was in no way tied to the fieldhouse, whatever savings realized from the discontinuation of sports will be accounted for in the university’s financial plan and not used for athletic purposes.
Q: Do you feel the announcement of the field house was done too quickly after the decision in the spring?
A: The announcement of the field house and the decision to discontinue sport offerings are two, mutually exclusive events. We operate on a vibrant campus that has a multitude of things happening simultaneously on any given day. As such, we do our best to manage a wide variety of circumstances and options when making public decisions. That said, this is a milestone project for UB Athletics and our campus. It is something we should be extremely proud of accomplishing and we should continue the purpose of providing a positive and championship experience for student-athletes.
Q: How will the addition of the field house help Buffalo athletics grow in the future?
A: Unlike any other entity on campus, successful athletics programs build pride for the Buffalo community. In order for this to occur, we have to provide a competitive product on the field and courts of play. Having an indoor practice facility allows our student-athletes to train year round, in a climate-controlled environment without distractions from the elements. Construction of such a facility also signals to potential student-athletes that UB is serious about being competitive in the Mid-American Conference as we continue our pursuit of more MAC championships.
Q: What university events will be held in the field house? What kind of student programming and intramural's will be held there and what level of access will regular students have?
A: The fieldhouse will be an asset to the entire university community as it will also be utilized by intramurals and sports clubs as well as the general student population. Once the facility is built we will work on a schedule that will best benefit everyone.
As an asset to the entire university, the field house is expected to serve the university community. Discussions about utilization will occur throughout construction of the facility.
Q: What factors went into selecting a contractor and architecture firm? What other major projects have they been responsible for in the past?
A: Both the designing firm (CHA) and the construction firm (LeChase) were selected through the normal New York State request for proposal process, which selects the lowest bidder based on qualifications including technical/experience categories. That said, both firms had experience in designing and constructing facilities similar to ours. Most notably, CHA has designed indoor facilities for the University of South Carolina, University of Louisville, Miami University (OH), SUNY Oswego and SUNY Cortland, so we feel very confident in the final design.
Daniel Petruccelli is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org