By Tom Downey, Sports Editor
Originally published Dec. 11, 2013
Miami University will soon have its own indoor sports facility. The $13 million Indoor Sports Center is expected to be entirely donor-funded, with no student fee attached to the project.
For a school that once had to rent the University of Cincinnati's indoor facility to practice for a bowl game, getting a center of its own was essential, athletic director David Sayler said.
"It affects so many student-athletes," Sayler said. "A number of teams are going to get some space to do something in the winter and the tough winter months. That's huge for us from a conditioning and practice, stay-sharp edge. And also just the recruiting piece of it. Everything on this campus that's built is, in essence, to attract students to come to Miami. Athletics is no different. We now have something that we're going to be able to point to that is new and say to students that athletics is important here. So that is critical to our future."
Sayler said he has identified all but $500-600,000 of the funds needed for the center, and the rest should not be a problem. The center will feature a full-length artificial turf football field, and netting area for sports such as golf, baseball and softball. The facility will also have four 100-yard sprint lanes, a long jump pit and a high jump area.
Sayler said the center is not named yet, which is a nice bonus at this point.
"Right now, it's not named after anybody, that's the beauty of it," Sayler said. "We can still sell that, and if we do that's just going to help us in fundraising the next phase. To get this far and not having a name slot on it is pretty unique, but it is also a great opportunity for us."
The center will be built near the current practice field, to the northeast of Yager Stadium. Sayler came to Miami known for his ability to fundraise, and the Indoor Sports Center is just the start of upgrades to Miami's athletic facilities.
"The goal is to have a performance center eventually attached to this building," Sayler said. "That would be a new housing area for the football team; locker room, a new training room, rehab center for the whole athletic program, a new weight room for football. That would be a space that would be attached to the indoor and butting right up against the North Bleachers."
That performance center is the next thing on Sayler's to-do list.
"I think it is critical for us, because not only does it give football all the modern things that most people would have, but it gives us a state-of-the-art training/rehab center for all our of student-athletes," Sayler said. "It also frees up all that space in Yager that football currently has that we can use for golf, and locker rooms for track... those kids need more space and it will allow us to use that space."
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Sayler said he hopes to move on to that project soon.
"I'm pretty aggressive, so I'm hoping within a year we can move to that next one after getting the indoor up," Sayler said. "The only thing that's stopping me is getting pledge forms signed and I'm on to that right now."
Construction of 91,000 square-foot center is already underway, with the goal of having it finished in Winter 2014, or just into 2015.