BYU’s announcement of plans to a Marriott Center Annex is more than just an attempt by BYU administrators to upgrade the school’s second biggest sport — it’s about staying relevant.
The new facility will enhance BYU basketball’s recruiting game with exclusive state-of-the-art amenities including a new practice court, strength-and-conditioning room, other player meeting rooms and a hall of honor. Each element of the Annex is to enhance development of BYU basketball players, a topic men’s basketball head coach Dave Rose said is discussed with every player they recruit.
“The Annex is a huge step for BYU,” Lone Peak High School head basketball coach Quincy Lewis said. “To get that practice facility — I don’t think people understand how big of a deal that is. I know people look at the pictures and say, ‘That looks nice.’ But from a player perspective and from a high school perspective, a facility like that means player development. To have that gym to work in without having to schedule around physical education is a big deal.”
Higher-ups within the athletic department reportedly designed plans for the Annex after visiting the practice facilities of several big-time programs, including Oregon, Michigan State, Stanford, Penn State and the Utah Jazz, to name a few.
“This is something that we need to have happen to allow us to stay nationally relevant,” BYU men’s basketball head coach Dave Rose said.
The Annex also upgrades the Marriott Center’s potential as a host for future NCAA Tournament games. Teams competing in Provo would potentially have four university-level courts to practice on in the Provo/Orem area, including the Marriott Center, the Annex, the Smith Fieldhouse and UVU’s UCCU Events Center.
“I think this would put our arena on par to get an NCAA Tournament bid,” BYU Senior Associate Athletics Director Brian Santiago said. “But there are so many other factors that are a little bit out of our control that would have to fall into place. But certainly this enhancement would provide some of the necessary enhancements to attract a bid to the Marriott Center.”
One of the “other factors” potentially standing in Provo’s way of hosting the NCAA Tournament is the limited number of hotels in the area. Currently, there are only 10 major hotels within the Provo/Orem area. If the Marriott Center became host to the tournament’s Sweet-Sixteen and Elite-Eight rounds (as the Energy Solutions Arena was in 2010), these hotels would be tasked with accommodating the roughly 10,000–12,000 incoming travelers for the three-game weekend.
According to The Universe’s calculations, there are approximately 1,170 total rooms available at major hotels in the Provo/Orem area. Since not every tournament-goer would be traveling in big groups, it’s hard to estimate how many of these rooms would fill to full capacity. But if every room accommodated an average of four people, the individual capacity comes to 4,680. The other two-thirds of traveling fans would then have to stay somewhere from Lindon to Salt Lake City, which could be more convenient anyway when flying into Salt Lake City International Airport.
The Annex is a huge step forward for BYU basketball. Whether or not the Cougars become legitimate contenders to host the NCAA Tournament, the new facilities give their program the chance to flex its muscles on a larger scale.