When Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon stepped to the microphone, he lifted his arms above his head as though his team had just won a critical Big Ten matchup. “Yes!” he said. “I’m so excited — you have no idea.”
“There were many days I gave up on the building,” said Turgeon, who has pushed for such a facility for six or seven years. “Even a year ago, I looked at [Athletic Director Damon Evans] and I said: ‘Damon, quit talking to me about the practice facility. It’s not going to happen.’ ”
The facility will be privately funded, and the athletic department has raised $19 million so far. Maryland is still working to complete the Cole Field House project, which will turn the site into a $210 million indoor football facility. Only $60 million had been raised as of last month. Given that project, Turgeon said he had to wait patiently for the new basketball facility.
“I believe as an athletic department that we’ve got to continue to push and move forward and grow,” Evans said of pursuing both projects simultaneously. “Our basketball programs are important to us, the history and tradition that we have. I believe that we have the fan base and the support out there to do so.”
The basketball performance center will connect to Xfinity Center, where both programs play. The plans for the 60,000-square-foot facility include two full-size courts, a strength and conditioning facility, locker rooms, lounges and space dedicated to sports medicine. Turgeon said the strength and conditioning facility is at least four times the size of Maryland’s current space. Women’s coach Brenda Frese called the center a “game-changer.”
When asked about the expected completion date, Evans’s reply was “as soon as possible,” noting that this sort of project typically takes about 36 months and the athletic department remains focused on completing fundraising. Tuesday marked the start of what Evans called a “comprehensive fundraising campaign.” Opportunities for naming rights are available, and Evans would not comment on whether Under Armour would be financially involved.
Turgeon has begun incorporating the new facility into his recruiting pitches. Both coaches lean on the school’s basketball tradition, but the performance center will elevate what the programs can offer and showcase the athletic department’s commitment.
“We already play in the best facility in the country,” Frese said of Xfinity Center. “And now to have a practice facility to be able to match it — very, very exciting day.”
Turgeon pointed to the challenges of juggling practice time slots at Xfinity Center. He mentioned how last winter his team once missed practice and the next day had to train in a different building because the arena was hosting graduation proceedings. So while the new facility will boost recruiting efforts, it will also address other concerns.
“This building is not about keeping up with the Joneses,” Turgeon said. “It’s an arms race in college athletics, but this building is needed.”
Once the practice facility is complete, Xfinity Center will be able to accommodate more events — a revenue boost for the athletic department. Maryland’s Olympic sports teams will benefit from the space in Xfinity Center that the basketball teams vacate, but the most significant impact will be felt by the basketball teams, which will happily welcome their new, spacious home.
The facility “will usher in a new era for success for basketball,” Evans said. “It will be a symbol of excellence, not only for our fans but our coaches, our student-athletes and this great institution.”