Fair or not, the University of Notre Dame has often been accused of catering too much to the football program. In recent months, the school has announced another multi-million practice facility heavily revolved around the football team adding additional space connected to the Gug and a new indoor practice facility across the street. This is in addition to the ambitious $400 million Crossroads project that has wrapped up and added a staggering 800,000 square footage in and around the football stadium.
With both of these projects other teams/clubs/students were benefiting but the football team was the primary driver and recipient of million of dollars of largess. Practically lost in the wake of the Crossroads project was the informal declaration that Notre Dame basketball would finally receive its own dedicated practice facility. Even that announcement–which was more of a promise several years ago–left a lot of people with a bad taste in their mouth.
Fighting Irish basketball would move into the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center just to the north of the Joyce Center as those workouts spaces would begin transitioning to the new student center built into the western side of Crossroads. You have to admit it wasn’t a very sexy decision and was met with plenty of eye rolling. There were even plenty of people who were skeptical that the new practice facility would even get done. Too many battered fans thought it could get lost in the immensity of the Crossroads giant.
Well, the new basketball practice facility opening in just a few months.
The way we got here wasn’t smooth or certainly timely. It’s conservatively 10 to 15 years too late? The project has received about as little fanfare as possible given the fact that a lack of a viable practice facility has been a running joke on Notre Dame Internet for ages.
I was skeptical myself when they announced the Rolfs renovation–it did seem a little haphazard and last-second to create a new practice facility this way. Still, all is well that ends well, right?
I don’t profess to have a deep knowledge of other college basketball facilities but these concepts are pretty amazing. I can’t imagine there are too many other programs around the country with more appealing set-ups. And as awkward as the Rolf’s transition sounded both men’s and women’s programs will have a whole ton of space to work with which is an added bonus.
I do chuckle that there’s a Lou Holtz quote attached to the wall in the cold bath room. You can’t completely escape football’s looming grasp!
It’s more than about time and really heart-warming to see Muffet McGraw and Mike Brey receive first-class treatment like this. In a way, this was really the final frontier for modern Notre Dame athletics to catch up with the rest of the country. Now that it’s here it will definitely feel like an end of an era not just for the basketball teams but for the whole athletic department as a whole. We can debate whether this stuff really matters (it does though, come on) but it’s wholly deserved, and at the very least, makes playing/coaching/working for Notre Dame a heck of a lot more fun and enjoyable.