Virginia Tech Athletic Facility Improvements: A Closer Look

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Massive improvements are coming to Virginia Tech’s athletic facilities, and almost every single sport will benefit.  Buried in the notes of Tech’s March BOV meeting are details on the master plan for facilities in the athletic department.  They include a number of facility improvements that will impact track, basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, and many more programs.

Currently Virginia Tech is renovating the interior of the Merryman Center at a cost of $2 million.  That’s just the start of a huge set of projects that could cost over $30 million altogether.

Warning…this article is going to be extremely graphic-heavy.  You can click on the graphics for a larger image.

All graphics are from an Intercollegiate Athletics report to the Student Affairs & Athletics Committee of the Board of Visitors, presented on March 21, 2016. We provide a link to the full report at the bottom of this article.

vt_rector_fieldhouse

Virginia Tech’s track programs will get a boost when Rector Field House is renovated.  The Hokies are already strong in track, and the addition of new training rooms, locker rooms, etc. should help recruiting even more.  The soccer and lacrosse programs will also benefit from the addition of new locker rooms.  Tech hopes to have that project finished by the fall of 2017.

vt_burrows_burleson

The Hokie tennis programs will be getting a huge shot in the arm thanks to the $2 million improvements to the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center.  New team lounges and locker rooms are only part of the impressive redesign.

vt_english_field_1

The English Field renovation is the biggest project in this set of projects, and it will cost anywhere from $10-18 million.  As you can see from the graphic above, it will add seating down the first base line, expanded press boxes, a video board, and much more.

However, you still can’t tell much from that image.  Try this one instead…

vt_english_field_2

Keep in mind that the graphic above is simply just a mock-up.  The final design of the expansion has not been approved yet.  However, it will look something like that.

The Virginia Tech baseball program will finally have a stadium that can compare to the competition in the ACC and SEC (not to mention smaller programs such as Liberty and Coastal Carolina).

vt_cassell_coliseum_seatupgrade

This graphic doesn’t show any mock-ups, but the plan is to start replacing some of the midcourt seats in Cassell Coliseum with bigger, more comfortable theater style seats.  This will lower the capacity in Cassell somewhat, though the exact number hasn’t been decided at this point.  The first phase of this project is expected to be completed this summer.

vt_bowman_room

Virginia Tech is also planning massive improvements to the Bowman Room.  It will now fall in line with what the rest of the interior of the Merryman Center will look like after that renovation is complete.  The room will still be used to entertain donors before football and basketball games.

vt_hahn_hurst

The weight room in the Hahn-Hurst Basketball Practice Facility will be getting a small upgrade.  The facility is still pretty new, but the Hokies have made constant changes to the interior over the years to fit the personalities and styles of each of their head coaches.

vt_thompson_field

Thompson Field is a very nice setting to watch a soccer game.  The experience will now be even better, as the Hokies plan to spend between $500,000 and $600,000 on a brand new video board.  That should upgrade the fan experience, and it will also make the programs a bit more attractive to potential recruits.

vt_golf_simulator

It might be tough to picture exactly what a golf simulator is, but the Tech golf programs are getting one. They are also getting new offices as part of this project, which will cost around $650,000.  It is scheduled to be completed sometime this summer.

vt_cassell_arctic_entry

Virginia Tech plans to build a new entrance on the west side of Cassell Coliseum that extends out from the current entrance.  This is to protect fans, both inside and outside, from the cold weather.  Think of it as a really big arctic entry.  Currently there is no timetable for this project, and the cost is also unknown.

vt_student_athlete_development_suite

The athletic department also plans to expand their Student Athlete Development Suite.  However, as you can probably tell from the wording in the graphic, this project doesn’t appear to be far along at this point in time.  The cost is unknown, the timing is unknown, and even the location seems to be unknown.

vt_south_endzone_serving_areas

The Hokies are also spending a paltry $15,000 to update the concession offerings in the South Endzone  club areas.  These fans will also now be allowed to purchase alcohol during games, which brings the South Endzone clubs in line with the West Side clubs.  This project will be ready for the 2016 football season.

vt_cross_country

Virginia Tech’s cross country course will have to be re-routed because of the expansion to the Virginia Tech Airport.  Cost and timing are to be determined.

Here are the known costs so far…

  • Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center: $2 million
  • Bowman Room: $2 million
  • Thompson Field: $500,000-$600,000
  • Golf Simulator and Offices: $650,000
  • South Endzone Concessions: $15,000
  • English Field at Union Park: $10-18 million
  • Hahn-Hurst Weight Room: $150,000-$175,000
  • Total: $15.3 million to $23.4 million

Costs aren’t yet known for some of the other projects that are planned, but we’ve heard that Athletic Director Whit Babcock plans to ask the Board of Visitors for authorization to take out a loan of approximately $30 million in their June meeting.

There have been a lot of facilities improvements at Virginia Tech over the years, particularly during Jim Weaver’s tenure (1997-2013) as athletics director.  However, this marks the first time that the Hokies will potentially take out a substantial loan for a project that is focused mostly on the non-revenue sports.  On a related note, Tech is expected to be able to pay for all or most of their $20 million Indoor Football Practice Facility through private donations, which obviously makes this $31 million project more feasible.

To recap, here’s what it looks like..

ProjectCostEstimated Completion
English Field at Union Park$10-18 million2018 season
Bowman Room$2 millionTBD
Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center$2 millionSpring 2017
Golf Simulator and Offices$650,000Summer 2016
Thompson Field$500,000-$600,000TBD
Hahn-Hurst Weight Room$150,000-$175,000Fall 2016
South Endzone Concessions$15,000August 2016
Rector Field HouseTBDFall 2017
Cassell Coliseum SeatingTBDSummer 2016 (First phase)
Cassell Coliseum West EntranceTBDTBD
Student Athlete Development SuiteTBDTBD
Cross Country CourseTBDTBD

Source for information and graphics (87 MB PDF): Intercollegiate Athletics report to the Student Affairs & Athletics Committee of the Board of Visitors

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23 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I just spent 10 minutes talking with Whit Babcock in the hall in Merryman on a recent visit. That was the second time that I have spoken with him since he started his tenure. Although we just spoke in generalities, I told him that I was impressed with his work thus far and he makes my family and I proud to be a Century Champion Hokie Club member. I have full confidence in his vision of the programs, the facilities and the promotion of the athletic teams of the University. The timing is right to take on a little debt to get all of our programs upgraded.

  2. Cassell is a wonderful venue. It should never be replaced. How old is that place at Duke?

    1. ??? What do you mean by that? Bonding is how all programs and all governments fund large capital projects.

      1. I left the Hokie Club a couple of years ago. I have debated rejoining. I just believe borrowing money to the tune of $30,000,000 is an extremely bad idea. Bad enough to make my previous statement.

        1. Virginia Tech’s current athletic debt load is a smidge under $50 million, as of the end of FY2015. That’s actually very good for a department the size of VT’s, and taking on another $30 million, though it sounds daunting, is not unreasonable.

          For comparison’s sake, Tennessee made the news back in 2013 when it was revealed they had athletic debt totaling over $200 million. That’s on the high side, to put it mildly.

          http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/59879/tennessees-debt-exceeds-200-million

          1. Tennessee has had significant financial issues even with SEC revenues and a large stadium. It has not been able to reduce its debt load. VT has had great financial management and should continue do so. It makes sense to borrow the money. Withdrawing from the Hokie Club hurts all sports. If anything, folks ought to be excited about the facilities improvements and support the Hokie Club even more! The improvements should help recruiting and thereby improve the teams.

        2. Very good time for VT to invest in great people in place. This is a great school that does athletics the right way with the right people. Excellent investment. Join us. For real.

        3. That’s really misguided thinking. Don’t give because you don’t want to give, but stopping your giving because they are investing the money wisely is just silly. This department operates in the black. Investing that money back into the programs keeps it successful, and it should make it even more so. As noted, interest rates make financing these projects very attractive. What did you think would be done with your gifts when you did make them?

      2. Except when they can make renovations and additions through private donations. I kind of agree with CEhokie on this one, we’ve got a lot of “if’s” up in the air right now to be able to justify that kind of debt load.

          1. The only “ifs” for me is the success of our new coaches. Buzz is heading in the right direction, but the cloud over him is if he leaves early. Fuente is TBD, but all indications are good now…time will tell as always. 20/20 hindsight never made anyone a fortune for sure. I’m going to join the Hokie Club for the first time this year. I think it is a good time to join as things look absolutely up right now and I think the timing is good. I also believe that if we are going to borrow money, now or just around the corner (some are predicting an upcoming recession and negative rates…see Europe) is the right time.

    2. It says the projects could total $30,000,000. That doesn’t mean it will be a $30,000,000 loan. I’m sure donations will make up a decent portion of that cost…

    1. There does not appear to be. I’ve heard various things over the years, but I have never seen a basketball arena or convocation center included in any Virginia Tech documentation on master plans, be they university-wide or athletic in nature.

    2. We don’t need a new basketball facility. We can’t sell out the one we have. Just need to modernize the current one. Seating is a start. What we really need is a state of the art video / scoreboard above center court. If Bristol can put one above their track infield, there has to be a way we can do the same.

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