Administration officials have begun looking at ideas for an indoor practice facility that would be built in the center of the campus, replacing practice fields and Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium’s baseball diamond, officials close to discussions told The Diamondback.
Though no funds have been secured for such a facility and there are no concrete plans, an architectural firm has presented officials with a preliminary idea for a state-of-the-art indoor facility, said officials, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity and confidentiality of early discussions.
When it joins the Big Ten on July 1, the university will be the only member without an indoor facility. The revenue-sharing conference will provide the university with at least an additional $100 million from TV revenue by 2020, but a commission charged with crafting guidelines for the university’s Big Ten integration said in a report last month the university cannot use the revenue for new athletic facilities, including an indoor practice facility, practice fields and a Varsity team house.
But an indoor practice facility will become increasingly important as the university recruits athletes who will compete in the Big Ten, and university officials are prioritizing the development project.
“It’s very important now that we’re going to the Big Ten,” said an administration official who requested anonymity because of the sensitive and confidential nature of the discussions. “We can’t be the only school without an indoor facility, which is absolutely critical for recruitment.”
Officials declined to name a price or specify where funds would come from.
The Big Ten does not set guidelines or mandate what facilities its members must have, said Brad Traviolia, the conference’s deputy commissioner. But it is not surprising, he said, that both this university and Rutgers, which is also set to join July 1, may begin comparing their facilities to other member institutions.
“Maryland and Rutgers, rightfully so, will use their new peer group to compare themselves and see how they stack up, whether it’s academically or [with] football practice facilities,” Traviolia said. “We’ve never dictated to our schools about their facilities. Those are really local choices.”
Football coach Randy Edsall and men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon said their focus is on competing in the ACC this year. But Edsall expressed the need for an indoor facility to attract the nation’s top recruits.
“That’s something that we know we have to upgrade, and we’re going to,” Edsall wrote in a July live chat on ESPN.com. “We know that for us to go and be on a competitive scale not only where we are in the ACC, but moving forward to the Big Ten, we have to upgrade facilities. We look forward to the continuing of that process and getting a shovel in the ground.”