By Jonathon Eyre
For much of the first half of BYU”s game against Hawaii Sept. 6, Cougar fans didn”t have much to cheer about, but that changed at halftime.
President Merrill J. Bateman announced he received approval from the University”s Board of Trustees to start building the new Athletic Complex.
“For more than 20 years, BYU has needed improved athletic learning facilities,” Bateman said. “I am pleased to announce tonight that we will begin the new athletic facilities immediately.”
This announcement incited raucous cheers from the Cougar faithful.
Ground breaking for the new facility, which will be completed by Fall 2003, is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 3 p.m. at Haws Field, located west of the Smith Fieldhouse.
Bateman thanked members of the President”s Leadership Council Executive Committee for their help in the fund-raising effort.
The new complex will consist of two buildings – the Indoor Practice Facility and the Student-Athlete Center.
The two buildings will be equipped with amenities such as a student-athlete academic center, strength and conditioning center, nutrition center, locker rooms, conference rooms and offices, according to a news release.
“The Student-Athlete Center and the Indoor Practice Facility will be second-to-none in helping students achieve excellence in academics and athletics,” BYU football coach Gary Crowton said in the news release.
Crowton also emphasized the importance these new facilities will have on recruiting.
He said his promise that improved facilities were coming soon helped him land one of the school”s best recruiting classes.
Bateman said there is one catch. Only 85 percent of the funds have been raised and Bateman promised he would have the remaining $8 million by Dec. 31, he told the crowd.
Currently the Smith Fieldhouse is home to a majority of BYU”s sports programs. At the time it was built there were only six sports at BYU. Now more than 600 student athletes compete in 21 sports.
“While BYU has updated and expanded the Smith Fieldhouse, we have simply outgrown the building,” Val Hale, BYU men”s athletic director, said in the news release. “The new complex will benefit all BYU sports and athletes.”
The construction of the new complex will be a joint venture between Okland Construction of Salt Lake City and Span Construction of Fresno, Calif., according to the news release.