Illinois practice facility getting $30 million upgrade

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Twenty years after it was first built, Illinois’ practice facility is getting a $30 million update.

The Illini are more than doubling the square footage, adding court space and enhancing sports medicine facilities, the strength and conditioning area, study spaces and locker rooms at the Richard T. Ubben Basketball Practice Facility, the school announced Monday.

“We’re excited about the expansion plans for the Ubben practice facility,” coach Brad Underwood said in a statement. “It will enable us to be self-contained in terms of everything we do from enhanced athletic training, rehab and recovery areas, to rooms for academic services, an expanded strength and conditioning area, dining space, expanded court space, and the most up-to-date technological offerings throughout the building.

“This renovation will offer a comprehensive, functional space that is the players’ home-away-from-home and has them excited every time they walk in the doors. Bottom line, it will be a facility that allows our players to achieve their best as students and athletes.”

Illinois is adding 45,000 square feet to the facility, which will allow for two new half-courts for the men’s and women’s programs as well as a two-story weight room and a tripling in the size of the locker rooms.

“There is a direct correlation between the construction of the Ubben Complex and the unparalleled success our program enjoyed over the next 10 years that followed,” Illinois director of athletics Josh Whitman said in a statement. “In the 20 years since Ubben opened, the concept has been copied by programs from coast-to-coast. Now, it is imperative for us to ensure that this outstanding facility remains as cutting-edge today as it was when it opened. We look forward to using this facility to help catapult the Fighting Illini programs back to an elite level.”

While the practice facilities arms race seems to have quieted in recent years, there’s still an incredible desire by major programs to stay at the front edge. Whether it’s the dorms created at Kansas and Kentucky specifically for players (and “regular” students, too) or a massive investment like the kind Illinois is making, it’s still clear that programs are willing to spend big to stay at the top – or get back there in Illinois’ case.