UB athletics envisions $50M in facility upgrades

February 18, 2014 Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 2:14 PM EDT

By Dan Miner, Reporter- Business First

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UB athletics envisions $50M in facility upgrades

February 18, 2014 Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 2:14 PM EDT

The University at Buffalo has unveiled a long-term vision for a variety of athletics facilities projects topping $50 million for which funding has not yet been fully identified.

The "UB Athletics Facilities Master Plan" provides much greater detail and new financial projections on known initiatives, such improvements to and around UB Stadium and an indoor fieldhouse. See elements of the master plan here.

It also includes new large-scale projects, such as the proposed construction of adjacent soccer and baseball stadiums in the vicinity of UB's football digs, just off Millersport Highway.

UB's news release credits the vision to Athletic Director Danny White, who has engineered a variety of new efforts to raise the profile of UB athletics under the "New York Bulls Initiative" campaign. That includes a variety of fundraisers and an effort to rebrand UB's teams for more regional appeal, with an emphasis on its stature as New York state's largest university.

White's statement indicates that the plan's release is motivated, at least in part, to spur further efforts to raise the funds toward current projects.

"We expect this visual plan to increase excitement with the donor base and we will work as aggressively as possible to secure the necessary commitments to move forward with the high priority projects such as the field house," White said.

UB Stadium will be the site of most of the plan's "priority projects," including a $5 million, 21,000-square-foot "football headquarters, with additional coaches' offices, a head coach's suite and recruiting area, nine additional position team meeting rooms and expanded meeting room and "flex" space.

The $10 million "East Side Club," a new club seating section, will span the existing 200-level seating area and consist of 1,600 premium seats with an attached 9,700-square-foot enclosed hospitality area. UB has been raising money for the club by selling long-term rights to seats there, a strategy that it expects will eventually subsidize its field house project.

The field house, now with a proposed price of $20 million, will have 130,000 square feet and include a full-length football field, artificial turf surface, expansive strength and conditioning center, a multi-lane sprint track and a bridge connecting to Alumni Arena.

Officials have said the project is a necessity for recruiting high-caliber student athletes and for continued training during winter. It will be designed for use by the football, track, softball, baseball and soccer teams.

The last "priority project" will be underway in the coming weeks. A $1.5 million training facility for use of all student-athletes, located in UB Stadium, is expected to be complete by the summer and will include a pool rehabilitation area, modality treatment area, taping area, exam room with fluoroscope and hydration station.

In the longer-term, UB plans to remove the track that separates the stands from the football field and replace it with a "patio-style environment," while a grassy sloped seating area will replace seats in one end zone.

It also plans to add more permanent seating closer to the football field and to lower the field - improving the space to the action and sight lines that are a common complaint of fan's game day football experience.

Kunz Field is also in line for enhancements, with proposals including new artificial turf, an expanded track, improved grounds for track and field and team rooms.

Meanwhile, near UB stadium, a new $5-10 million soccer stadium and new $5 million baseball are proposed, a $2 million to softball's Nan Harvey Field and substantial improvements at Alumni Arena (where the basketball facility recently received a $2 million upgrade).

The UB Bulls are NCAA Division I members playing out of the Mid-American Conference, competing in 18 men's and women's sports.

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