UB Athletics reveals plans for renovations
Athletic village not finalized; UB Athletics envisions the future
Published: Sunday, February 16, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 16, 2014 20:02
On Thursday afternoon, the UB Division of Athletics released its Facilities Master Plan, laying out how the department plans to develop the area around Alumni Arena and UB Stadium.
The plan includes renderings of a field house, soccer stadium and baseball field, upgrades to the softball field and renovations to UB Stadium and Alumni Arena.
“[Athletic Director] Danny [White] wants to move quickly on everything,” said Allen Greene, deputy director of athletics. “He is extremely ambitious and aggressive in terms of his vision. We want the community to feel that sense of urgency.”
The plan is a rough outline that is not finalized, but it is a way for the department to envision the development of the “athletic village” area while also generating buzz and excitement for the department to help boost donation dollars, according to Greene.
“Most master plans range from five to 20 years and this one is all going to depend on funding,” Greene said. “It’s going to depend on how much the community buys in how much money we can raise. It’s going to be private dollars that helps fund these things.”
Greene said private dollars would solely fund the projects. The East Club – the club section that will be added to the east grandstand of UB Stadium – will be a major fundraising engine. Greene also expects a large portion of the money to come from philanthropic gifts.
Greene also highlighted “priority” projects, which include a new tennis center, field house and the East Club. He said the department’s top priority is the field house, which would house indoor facilities for the football, soccer, baseball, softball and track & field teams. The program currently lacks an on-campus indoor facility for outdoor sports, whichputs teams at a competitive disadvantage in the Mid-American Conference, as most athletic programs have indoor facilities.
Space is the other major obstacle athletics faces in developing its plan.
Construction of the Ortman Tennis Center was slated to begin in 2013 but has been pushed back due to departmental discussions on both space and money.
The athletics development team decided to place the field house in the area north of UB Stadium, where they had previously planned to build the tennis center. Instead, the plan is to build the tennis center on top of the courts located near the Ellicott Complex.
The department expects a price quote on the building of a one-story tennis building at the Ellicott location in the coming weeks.
The plans to upgrade UB Stadium include building football headquarters, “hiding” the track to move fans closer to the field and lowering the field to increase seating. Greene cited Boise State’s Bronco Field as an example of the direction athletics is trying to move with the stadium.
Boise State increased its stadium’s capacity from 14,500 to 36,387 in 2012 by building over the track, moving fans closer to the field.
Greene said he has discussed many different options about the stadium with both White and Assistant Athletic Director for Development Eric Gross, and they have left all of their options open.
The department is also involved in an effort to build a standalone recreation center, which would make Alumni Arena exclusively a varsity athletics building. Greene said this would allow athletics to renovate the building, giving it upgrades in facilities and aesthetics.
One of the more vague parts of the plan involves the future of Kunz Field. Greene said the part the field plays in the athletics vision depends upon how the department decides to tackle other issues – namely the soccer stadium currently planned for just north of UB Stadium and the relocation of the track & field team if the track at UB Stadium is “hidden.”
Greene also emphasized the importance of Kunz Field from a recreation standpoint, calling it a “multi-purpose facility.”
The buildings within the Facilities Master Plan may not come to fruition for another few years, but the plan serves as an illustration of the future of UB Athletics.
“Nothing is permanent,” Greene said. “But it’s a visual way to see what we want to do.”