Amber Swinehart and Laura Buehrig visit the Tom Taylor Building daily to work out, eat and do homework. These members of the soccer team, along with all MU athletes, are encouraged to go to the sports complex regularly, but Swinehart and Buehrig say the complex doesn’t always comfortably fit the more than 500 athletes who come and go.
“Once the football team gets in the dining hall, they tend to overtake everything,” Buehrig said. “It gets cramped.”
The weight room has high traffic as well, Swinehart said.
The athletic complex at the southwest corner of Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard will undergo a $16 million renovation beginning in August, six years after its most recent makeover. The project, which is expected to be complete in November 2006, includes a new 35,700-square-foot second floor as well as a relocation of the football locker room and renovations of the dining area, team lockers and academic support area.
“This is something that will definitely help us recruit high quality student athletes,” said Chad Moller, manager of sports information for the MU Athletic Department. “It’s something that will help sell the program to people.”
The Kansas City Sports Trust pledged $10 million to the project in March 2004, about half of which has been collected, MU spokesman Jeremy Diener said. The remaining $6 million have come from private pledged donations. Although the Athletic Department doesn’t have all of the pledges in hand, Moller said, it has enough to begin the project in August.
MU women’s soccer coach Bryan Blitz said that about 70 percent of the time members of his team spend on athletics is spent at the complex.
“For us, it allows them to have better time management, instead of having to go all over the place to lift, study and get treatment,” he said. “It’s just outgrown its original usage.”
He said the dining hall, which makes food specific to athletes’ nutritional needs, needs to be expanded.
A 2002 study commissioned by the Athletic Department found a lack of space in the dining, strength and conditioning and football facilities, Moller said, even after the 1999 renovation that expanded the strength and conditioning room.
“There are original parts of the structure that certainly can use a good updating,” Moller said. “We’ve outgrown what the facility can provide for our need right now.”
The kitchen, specifically, will receive new stoves and refrigerators.
The plan will also make the Academic Resource Center about 1½ times larger. The computer labs, small study rooms and general study space will all be expanded to accommodate more student athletes.
“The more space the athletes have to study means that they will be more likely to come here,” said Becky Sobus, a fifth-year senior and former MU gymnast. Sobus sits at a desk inside the Academic Resource Center and checks in athletes who are scheduled to study.
“Any opportunity to make our facility bigger can always be good,” Sobus said.
Plans for the project began in December 2002; the Athletic Department received funding from the Kansas City Sports Trust in March 2004.
The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved the project at its meeting in February.
The schematic design shows that the building will keep its red brick exterior and add a metal roof on the second floor. The interior includes a two-story strength and conditioning center, new offices for football coaches, a 150-seat lecture-style classroom and an expanded Academic Resource Center and dining hall. The facility will also increase office space for Olympic sports, which are classified as any sport other than football and basketball.
After renovations, the complex will total 101,874 square feet.
“It will unquestionably be used as a recruiting advantage for athletics,” Moller said, “much like the new business school or life sciences building is used to attract students to Mizzou.”