As The Summit League continues a renaissance of historic achievements, several member institutions across the league are enjoying a similar renaissance on their campus. Construction is underway or nearing completion that will allow the future stars of tomorrow to “Reach The Summit” in new, state-of-the-art facilities.
The construction boom demonstrates a commitment by membership to upgrade athletic facilities, a goal of the league’s “Summit Plan” launched in 2007. Nearly half of the nine league schools will move into new basketball facilities within the next three years, beginning with the upcoming 2014-15 season.
“It is great to see our membership commit to improving their basketball venues,” said Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple. “The ongoing construction across our league speaks volumes about the level of commitment our institutions have toward the league’s vision. It will certainly be exciting for our universities and their communities to have new modern facilities to showcase their athletic programs and draw additional events to campus.”
Fort Wayne enhanced its Hilliard Gates Sports Center in 2013-14 with a new video board and court for its basketball and volleyball teams. Two more projects will be unveiled when the upcoming basketball season tips off. Western Illinois installed a new court at Western Hall and IUPUI moves into the newly-renovated Fairgrounds Coliseum.
IUPUI men’s basketball will be the main tenant at the Fairgrounds Coliseum beginning with the first game on Nov. 14 against Indiana State. The building recently received a 22-month, $63-million renovation and is expected to seat nearly 7,000 for basketball. The renovations include fully renovated locker rooms, a suspended state-of-the-art double ribbon video board, updated sound system and hospitality options throughout fully renovated concourses.
The Summit League Basketball Championships will also be played in a new facility this season. The $115-million Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, opening in the fall, will host the event for the first time this March. Located next to the Sioux Falls Arena, home to record-breaking tournament crowds for the past six years, the new arena will seat approximately 12,000.
The 2015-16 season will mark the opening of Omaha’s new UNO/Community Arena which will provide the Mavericks’ men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams a new on-campus home. The $81 million, 7,500-seat facility, which also will serve as the home of the Omaha hockey team, will allow the university to attract concerts and other community events including graduations. It also will provide the campus population with opportunities for public skating, club hockey and intramural programs. The arena is the cornerstone for further athletic facility development on UNO’s Center Street campus including baseball and softball complexes and a tennis facility. It is scheduled to host its first athletic event in October 2015.
North Dakota State broke ground in April on the Sanford Health Athletic Complex. Anchoring the facility is the new 5,700-seat Scheels Center, the main arena that will serve as the home court for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Also included is the two-court Nodak Mutual Insurance Company basketball training facility which will provide 14,500 square feet. Additional amenities in the complex include the already-built Shelly Ellig Indoor Track and Field Facility which features a 200-meter, eight-lane track with 42-inch wide lanes and additional practice lanes on the straightaway, multiple long jump, triple jump and pole vault runways, and a shot put and weight throw sector on the infield. A 15,000 square-foot performance training center, including a student-athlete academic center, along with a Hall of Fame and team store are also part of the complex that is scheduled to open in October 2016.
The University of South Dakota broke ground in June on a $66 million project that includes the Sports Performance Enhancement Facility Complex and an Outdoor Track and Soccer Complex. The focal point of the complex is a 6,000-seat basketball facility. In addition, USD is adding a nine-lane, NCAA certified outdoor track and two soccer fields, one for practice and one for competition, adjacent to the DakotaDome. Project completion is expected before Fall 2016 and competition at the new Soccer Complex could begin as early as Fall 2015. USD plans to host the 2016 Summit League Outdoor Track & Field Championships at its new facility.
As The Summit League continues a renaissance of historic achievements, there will be several new, state-of-the-art facilities that will house the future stars of tomorrow as they “Reach The Summit.”
ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
In its fourth decade of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of over 120,000 at nine institutions, including four located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced eight NCAA Champions along with over 65 All-Americans, 60 Academic All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league and to "See The Summit", visit www.thesummitleague.org, follow on Twitter @thesummitleague, download The Summit League’s Front Row app, and watch the weekly “Inside The Summit League” show at www.thesummitleague.org/itsl.