Panthers to get new practice home

PantherU has learned that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has proposed a brand new basketball practice facility for the surface parking lot in front of the Klotsche Center, with construction happening possibly as early as July 2015.

The proposal, put together by architecture firms HGA and Donald Eyberg Architects/The Opus Group, would cost the university roughly $12 million, all of which will come from the fund for the university’s $25 athletics facilities fee. Fundraising efforts through Jenny Gryniewicz will focus on bells and whistles instead of bricks and mortar. The university will now wait for the Division of Facilities Development to get to them in the queue before shovels go in the ground. The university’s proposal expects everything to happen before July 2nd, 2015.

The building, which is strikingly similar to Joe Rice’s $35 million dream facility, is roughly one-third the cost of Rice’s proposal for the Black and Gold Club. Rice’s fake facility derives much of its cost from the green roof and digging down into the ground for an underground facility. One major difference as far as amenities is that the UWM proposal does not include a 250-person banquet hall, as Rice’s does. It also calls for one practice court instead of two, although the proposal does say it could be big enough for two courts to fit on it.

Milwaukee Basketball would move completely from the Klotsche Center to the new facility, which will house the practice gym, basketball strength and conditioning facility, team locker rooms, lounges, film theaters, coaches’ offices, conference rooms, and extra amenity space for things like a Hall of Fame. Like Rice’s plan, HGA’s proposal includes a two-floor glass atrium in the southwest corner of the building. They imagine that the space can be used for events and fundraisers, or for entertainment on game days.

Leaving the Klotsche Center opens up all kinds of space in the original building. Coaches offices will open up, giving the university the chance to reconfigure that space. Here’s to hoping they add a bathroom so the baseball coaches aren’t walking a quarter mile to take a leak. It also frees up space where the basketball teams had premium locker rooms. This will allow the other teams to spread out, giving them more premium locker space that will help them in recruiting. The Klotsche arena gets two less teams to squeeze into its schedule, a boon for volleyball and rec sports.

Another big benefit for the new practice facility will be a climate-controlled pedestrian bridge that goes over the drive in front of the Klotsche Center, bridging the gap to the Arena and Pavilion without creating the need to go outside. This will allow the women’s basketball team, whose locker rooms will be on the second floor of the new practice facility, to get from the locker room to the Klotsche game floor without having to go outside or up and down stairs.

UWM envisions construction of the facility to take roughly 15 months, which means that the facility could be ready for the 2016-17 season, although it’s more likely to be coming in for 2017-18.

The university does leave open the possibility for an on-campus arena in the future, citing cost as the reason it was pushed toward the back burner. They also said that the arena would likely go on the large space at the south end of the Klotsche Center and the Norris Health Center.

Here are some screen grabs of facility drawings inside the proposal:


This post originally appeared on the PantherU Premium forum on October 7th, 2014. It has been updated for publishing. The original forum thread is now public here. Join the discussion!

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