There has been talks about UB building a fieldhouse on its North Campus well before former Athletic Director Danny White released the facilities master plan for the department over two-and-a-half years ago. Now, it seems like the talk will finally materialize into groundbreaking sooner rather than later.
In an interview with WGRZ’s Adam Benigni, UB Athletic Director Allen Greene said that the department has reached 75-percent of the 18 million dollars in funding required to build the proposed indoor practice facility. Additionally, Greene mentioned that the department recently spent 1 million dollars to hire an architect to formally start the design process.
Since Buffalo Business First reported that UB had secured 13 million dollars in funds towards the project there has been little in the way of news on the advancement of the project. However, the news that the design process is moving forward will be welcome news to UB fans, administrators and athletes alike. UB remains the only athletic department within the Mid-American Conference that currently does not have an indoor practice facility.
A fieldhouse would support sports such as: football, baseball, softball and soccer by providing an indoor practice facility that can be used to train and prepare athletes year-round.
The funding mechanism for the proposed facility is producing well and Greene mentioned that the proposed facility could break ground as soon this coming spring if the remainder of the funding is secured through donations. The facility would be slightly different than what was laid out in the facilities master plan, but will be designed by the same firm and will be located in the same place on campus.
Editor’s Note - I’m going to put my engineering hat on and try to read between the lines
Based on my experience working professionally as an engineer with one of my major job duties being the management of large-scale capital projects, the fact that Greene mentioned ground could be broken within the next calendar year is encouraging.
Typically, in a large-scale project like this, partial funding is secured first, then detailed design and engineering work is performed. After the detailed design and engineering is completed mechanical work begins after full funding is secured.
Assuming Greene’s number of 75 percent of the funding being secure is correct, the cash UB has on hand would total about 13.5 million (close to the number Buffalo Business First reported). In projects of scale that I have been involved with, typically 10 percent of the total budget is used on design and engineering work, lining up with the 1 million dollars spent on the architecture firm.
Now, because building materials are relatively easy to source and don’t have long lead times, and assuming the detailed design takes 1-2 months, which is quite typical of projects this scale, that means ground could be broken as early as Thanksgiving. That’s a best-case scenario based on my engineering experience, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility. Greene most likely mentioned next spring to be conservative and it’s still unknown if the department will have the remainder of the funding available, but assuming there are no snags in the design work and the weather holds and funding is available I think that shovels could be in the ground before the end of the calendar year.