Since the late-1990s, when television contracts began their steady climb to the astronomical levels they reside at today, sport-specific facilities have gained popularity amongst the nation’s richest college programs. In college basketball the need to have your own facility has become even more important, with the presence of such a setup becoming a selling point that has managed to sway many a recruit.
Despite having won three national titles in men’s basketball and a record-tying eight in women’s basketball, the UConn basketball program was without a basketball-specific facility until ground was broken adjacent to Gampel Pavilion back in April. On Wednesday the school’s Board of Trustees approved a final construction budget of $33.3 million for the basketball center.
With furniture, equipment and other interior needs having to be satisfied after the structure is completed, the cost of the project is expected to approach $40 million according to Patrick Eaton-Robb of the Associated Press. But regardless of the cost, this was a necessary step for UConn given the changing landscape of collegiate athletics.
The facility, which will give both basketball programs a home that its players can utilize 24/7, will also house a basketball Hall of Fame that will be open to the public. “It’s going to be one of the best, if not the best basketball practice facility in the country,” UConn AD Warde Manuel said according to the Associated Press. “It’s something our program has earned, whereas others have built theirs without the level of championship performances that our programs have had.”
After missing out on postseason play last year due to APR issues, Kevin Ollie’s Huskies are expected to be a contender in the American Athletic Conference along with defending national champion Louisville and former Conference USA power Memphis. Guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will once again lead the way, with junior forward DeAndre Daniels having the potential to be a breakout player nationally. As for the women, with four starters returning from last season’s national title squad the Huskies are once again one of the favorites to win it all.