The Facilities Thing
As the ‘Cats conclude their fourth practice of the week, attention starts honing in on the Spring Game. Daily wire reports continue to blast disheartening news in our conference ranging from Jim Tressel’s potential tenure ending to the laundry list of injuries and the like. However, in our circles, this off-season promises the most anticipated news in the program in some time; the revealation of a master facilities plan.
Many of you received THIS SURVEY which walks you through a series of questions on potential preferences and discretionary price thresholds from everything including Ryan Field luxury suites to club seating to courtside seats at a basketball arena (if you want to see what it said without taking the survey you can browse Sippin’ On Purple’s recent post which did just that). I’m guessing this survey will help measure the baseline of a financing plan for an earn back on what will be major investments in to revenue sport facilities. Some of you have emailed me concluding that this survey implies band-aids to the existing facilities. I had the complete opposite reaction. My initial reaction was that everything including a Welsh-Ryan teardown was on the table. The bottom line is that only the NU administration knows.
I do want to point out a few things that are a given. Dr. Phillips is certainly looking at this across EVERY sport. The plan will certainly follow the main revenue sources with football and basketball receiving the most investment dollars. However, I’m confident every single sport is being considered. When you consider we have a perennial power wrestling program that has facilities shoehorned in the basement of Welsh-Ryan and a gorgeous Lakeside Field with no lockerrooms for the teams, you get the gist. I expect our non-revenue sports to get a HUGE list. This is going to be a gamechanger.
Jim Phillips took our administration on a tour of other Big Ten facilities to show them the discrepancy in what “they” have versus what we have. I think the field trips did a lot to persuade the school that we’re not on an even playing field, yet are still hanging in there in terms of competition. Imagine what we could do by sweeping out the argument of inferior facilities for recruits? I’ve been sniffing around Populous’ (the firm hired to do the facilities overhaul) website to try and get a feel for what we can expect, but it is tough to project what MIGHT be, but let’s face it, every situation is unique and at NU it might be with a capital “U”.
There are some legitimate challenges. The current athletics compound is relatively land locked. Plus, one often overlooked element of NU Athletics is the fact that most of the facilities like Ryan Field, Welsh-Ryan and many of the practice areas and academic counseling are a trek from campus. The enormous success of soccer and national championship caliber women’s lacrosse just steps from students’ dorms has to have opened eyes to the convenience of better utilizing the lakefront for practice facilities. It will be interesting from a football standpoint as I don’t see a way around practices up on Central Street, especially this time of year. I can only imagine a freshman hauling up there at 5:30 am to make it for a 6 am practice. Definitely not something they put on the recruiting brochure. However, this is why I’m so excited. Phillips and company are looking at the entire campus and every athletic program to try and create an optimal student athlete experience. We’ve been playing football for 135 years and there will never have been a more ambitious facilities endeavor than this.
According to Mike Polisky we’re still a couple of months away from learning the gameplan. I cannot wait. However, I get the sense the wait will be very much worth it.
NUSports.com’s home page is touting this weekend’s women’s lacrosse game against #3 Duke at noon ct at Lakeside Field. There will be a free lacrosse clinic AFTER the game for girls in grades 1-8. For more info go to www.NUSports.com .
Bill Carmody will be on BTN tonight and here is the official release cut and paste from BTN media relations:
“Northwestern men’s basketball coach Bill Carmody is scheduled to be an in-studio guest analyst on the Big Ten Network at 8 PM ET on Thursday. Carmody will appear on the show Big Ten Basketball & Beyond alongside Dave Revsine, Mike Hall and Jim Jackson.
Carmody will help review the Big Ten’s performance in the NCAA Tournament, preview this weekend’s Final Four and look back at the Wildcats’ 20-14 season that ended in the NIT quarterfinals. It was the second consecutive 20-win season for Northwestern.”