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USU hoping for new athletic center to support basketball, volleyball

Published January 24, 2011 4:48 pm

$7.5M needed • Regents endorse a privately funded athletics facility.
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Utah State University intends to build a 28,000-square-foot practice venue and athletics center west of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum under a plan approved Friday by the Utah Regents. The entire $7.5 million cost would have to come from private donors, and the money has yet to be secured.

The proposed facility, which features a 1,400-seat arena, would replace the Harris Athletic Center on 800 East in Logan.

Aggie men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams would practice in the new building, which would also host about 12 volleyball competitions a year, freeing up the busy Spectrum arena, USU President Stan Albrecht said.

"For us to keep it on a time frame that works, we wanted to put it through [USU] trustees and regents now so that when we do secure funding we can move forward," Athletics Director Scott Barnes said. "The current facilities don't meet the needs of our student athletes."

The project still requires legislative approval.

The proposed facility would also help with recruiting athletes and keep Aggie volleyball and basketball competitive, Barnes said. Design and construction would take 18 to 24 months, but the actual timing would depend on arranging a lead gift, Barnes said.

Officials want to locate the new center as close to the Spectrum as possible, with an eye toward connecting the two by tunnel. But siting options are limited because they don't want to sacrifice any parking, or encroach on the cemetery east of the arena.

A second potential site is being studied on the hillside to the southwest of the Spectrum, Barnes said.

Women's basketball and volleyball matches currently attract fewer than 700 spectators. Concentrating these fans in a smaller venue "would be conducive to creating a home-court advantage," Barnes said.

The proposed building would also hold team offices, meeting rooms, locker rooms, training facilities and possibly educational space.