ISU Announces Plan For Basketball Facility

The plans for a new 36,000-square foot basketball practice facility were announced last week by the ISU athletic department, pending approvals from the city of Ames as well as the Board of Regents.

If the facility is approved, it could be open as soon as Sept. 2009 and will be dedicated exclusively to the men's and women's basketball programs.

The facility will be located on two acres of land in the western part of Ames that is being donated to the Iowa State University Foundation for this purpose by local developer Dickson Jensen. It will be a part of a 10-acre comprehensive retail and commercial development planned for that area.

"All the other schools in the Big 12 Conference either have practice facilities or are in the process of building them," Senior Associate Athletic Director of Commmunications Steve Malchow said. "What might be the most undersold part of this is this will really create more flexibility in the personal schedules of our women's and men's basketball players. Right now they can not practice at the same time, so one of the teams has an early practice time and can finish practice and get to the dinner table and get their rehabilitation time on a pretty normal schedule."

"For the team that has to practice at the late slot, you're practicing over the supper hour and getting a meal and getting rehabilitated and getting onto your academic work is really problematic. When we get our new building, assuming we get those proposals, they can actually practice at the exact same time," Malchow said.

Junior guard Alison Lacey echoed Malchow's sentiment in the press release. "It will give us, as student-athletes, much more flexibility in our personal schedules and provide a first-class environment to practice our skills," Lacey said.

This facility will include separate gymnasiums, locker rooms, player lounges, and coaches' offices for the two programs, as well as a sports medicine unit. "This will be a great thing for our program," sophomore Craig Brackins said in a press release. "I am really excited to have a place where we can practice anytime we want and to have a facility to call home."

Assistant men's basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger said there may have to be some adjustments due to a proposed location of the facility. "If our players live off-campus, we may look into some housing closer to the facility," Otzelberger said. "I don't think there are any major drawbacks because our guys our conditioned to drive everywhere they go."

As a result of the land donation, the university plans to recommend a design build construction process to the Board of Regents to accelerate the completion date. The athletic department is hoping to get the approvals for the facility yet this fall.

Malchow said this new facility can also help the coaches in recruiting future classes. "As we're on the recruiting trail right now, we can tell kids that we will have this a little bit more than 12 months from now," Malchow said.

Women's basketball coach Bill Fennelly said this will just give the programs another thing to offer incoming players. "You are always trying to inform people of what you have," Fennelly said. "We have a great program, a great school and one of the best fan bases in the country, and a component of that is the facilities and the quality of life for the student-athletes. We'll certainly talk a lot about it and for the new kids coming into our program as it will be an exciting addition to what we already have."

Rival schools like Kansas and Missouri have full-time practice gyms, and Colorado and others are in the process of building theirs, which is what got discussions about something similar at Iowa State going.

Fennelly said this facility will help the Cyclones be on the level with the teams they compete with both in the Big 12 and nationally. "It's critical to have a facility that allows you to recruit the kind of student-athletes that you can win with in the Big 12," Fennelly said. "It's something we've sorely needed and it's great that it's finally going to come about."

Otzelberger said this will allow the players to also have more consistencies to their off-season and in-season workouts. "They have the ability to get up extra shots whenever they want to," Otzelberger said. "From a recruiting standpoint, it gives us another tool to bring in new recruits and is competitive with what people in our league have."

For the past several years, the basketball programs have had to share practice facilities with each other as well as the volleyball program in November and December in three different places on campus: Hilton Coliseum, State Gym, and Forker Building.

Volleyball coach Christy Johnson said this new facility may help her team as well because of the possibility that it can practice at Hilton more. "I would assume that we're going to be able to be in Hilton more both in the fall and in the spring and that's nice to not have to move back and forth," Johnson said. "When it gets hot, Forker gets really hot, and it's nice to be in air conditioning."

The original plan was to build the practice facility onto Hilton Coliseum but after Jensen donated the land as well as some other costs, the athletic department found out that it would be considerably less costly to build a new facility than to build onto an existing one. "This was too good of a deal to pass up," Malchow said. "That is what we're trying to do with the support of (ISU president) Dr.Geoffroy and vice president (of Business and Finance, Warren) Madden, who have been sensational in helping us get through the process to get where we are right now."

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