Official groundbreaking ceremonies for a dedicated new practice facility for UConn’s championship men’s and women’s basketball programs were held Tuesday on the site of the facility’s home behind Gampel Pavilion.
The event, which occurred a week after the Huskies brought home their eighth national title, tying Tennessee for the most wins in women’s basketball history, was attended by officials from the University, the UConn Foundation, alumni, and donors, and several current and former players as well as students.
“This is a landmark day for UConn,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “Our coaches and athletes have made UConn basketball the envy of the nation. They earned this facility with their hard work and their dedication.”
The new stadium is also a testament to the strength of the University’s alumni and supporters, whose donations are providing the financial support. “This facility is being built by our donors,” said Herbst. “We are so grateful to them for their support as we make our way to being one of the highest ranked research universities in the nation.”
“This facility is going to be a great landmark for our University and for our student athletes and alumni,” said men’s basketball head coach Kevin Ollie, who expressed his gratitude to former men’s basketball head coach Jim Calhoun and women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma for their leadership and to the alumni and donors who supported the project. “This building is going up as a foundation for the future of our program, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Auriemma said, “When I came to Connecticut, it was because of the people and it’s still about the people. Having said that, we have the best people and the best students and they deserve the best facility. If we are going to be the No.1 school in America, then we should be the No. 1 school in everything we do, and this building helps us do that.” Auriemma also played down concerns over the college basketball conference realignment. “None of that means anything. We are in a league of our own, and that’s where we are going to stay.”
The new 78,000 square-foot facility will feature practice gyms for the men’s and women’s basketball programs, along with locker rooms, coaches’ offices, and areas for academic support, video analysis, sports medicine, and strength training. The facility will allow basketball student-athletes to practice, train, study, and dine in one location.
The facility is one of the projects supported through the fundraising campaign launched in September 2009 by the UConn Foundation. So far, the Foundation has received about $28 million in donations and pledges for construction of the new facility, which is estimated to cost about $35 million.