Somewhere beyond the northeast corner of Memorial Stadium on Friday, shovel will meet dirt.
Nearly a year after the project was initially scheduled to begin, the Huskers will break ground on a sprawling, $155 million athletics complex that will eventually house the football program. The university announced the news Tuesday.
Announced in the fall of 2019, the project was delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial hardships it brought on. Fundraising efforts for the facility were slowed, understandably, but Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos stressed along the way that donors had remained committed to the project.
In December, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved revisions to the timeline, breaking construction into two phases. Phase one carried a $135 million price tag and phase two would cost $20 million.
“The first phase of the project will focus on a new state-of-the-art home for our football program that will provide updated and expanded areas critical for daily operations for our coaches, student-athletes and staff,” Moos said in a statement released after the vote. “That includes the locker room, meeting rooms, coaches offices, strength and conditioning area and athletic medicine facilities. The completion of the football facility will also be a difference-maker in attracting prospective student-athletes to our program.
“The first phase of the project will also include the building of the infrastructure that will position us to move forward soon with a new academic center and training table that will benefit all student-athletes.”
On Tuesday night, Moos went on the Husker Sports Nightly radio show to further detail the status of the project. He said the department had reached 80% of its fundraising goal, thus the go-ahead with breaking ground.
“It’s very special that all who have verbally and officially pledged to this project, we didn’t lose one of them,” Moos said. “Then we were able to get some more (commitments) after the shutdown and the decision to delay the project for a year.”
The goal was to hit $100 million through fundraising. The remaining $55 million is to be funded through other means. And with four-fifths of the goal already accounted for, Moos said they felt they can raise the remaining 20% during construction to roll right into the second phase of the project—the training table, academic center, and other support services for non-football sports.
As it currently stands, Nebraska football’s weight room, locker room, coaching offices and meeting rooms are housed inside Memorial Stadium. Neither the locker room nor the weight room are large enough to hold the entire football roster, one that has ballooned up over 150 players since head coach Scott Frost’s arrival in 2018.
The standalone facility will be built over the current Ed Weir Track, The entire renovation project as initially announced was set to span 350,000 square feet of space for Husker athletics. With the revised two-phased plan the Board of Regents approved, there were minor reductions in size.
Nebraska is expecting to occupy the space sometime in June or July of 2023.
On Friday, University of Nebraska system president Ted Carter will speak, along with UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green, Moos, Frost, and head women’s basketball coach Amy Williams.
Nebraska has released digital renderings of the exterior design, but had previously been hesitant to reveal much about the particulars of the interior design before it was finalized.
— Hail Varsity (@HailVarsity) September 27, 2019
The event on Friday will not be open to the public due to continued COVID-19 healthy and safety protocols, but media will be in attendance.