August 16, 2016
As part of its $1 billion campus expansion, Grand Canyon University announced Tuesday it will complete construction of 10 new athletic facilities within the next two years as it continues its transition to NCAA Division I athletics.
The unprecedented "GCU 10 in 2" initiative begins next week with the opening of GCU Stadium and includes nine more on-campus athletic facilities that will be completed by August 2018: baseball and softball stadiums, a basketball practice facility, student-athlete development center, tennis facility, beach volleyball stadium, athletics equipment room, private practice areas at GCU Golf Course and expansions to the Lopes Performance Center.
"This is a historic time for our athletic program as we enter the final year of our four-year transition period to Division I athletics," said Mike Vaught, vice president of athletics for GCU. "We want to be Top 25 in everything that we do and these incredible facilities will help us continue to compete at the highest level and strive for excellence both academically and athletically.
"I can't think of another university in the country that has embarked on such an ambitious construction project in such a short time frame, but that's how we do things at GCU. Things move pretty fast."
Although a newcomer to the Division I ranks, GCU has already won conference championships in the Western Athletic Conference in baseball, softball, men's and women's track, and men's and women's tennis while its men's basketball team made national headlines last season with a 27-7 record.
The university is in the midst of a 10-year, $1 billion investment in technologies and infrastructure that has coincided with an enrollment boom on the ground campus from about 900 students in 2008 to more than 17,000 this fall.
"We have been able build out our campus using our cash reserves without relying on taxpayer subsidies and without raising tuition, which has been frozen on our ground campus for eight straight years," said Brian Mueller, president of Grand Canyon University. "The additions of new classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, athletic facilities and other student amenities have not only transformed our campus but are also having a significant impact on our community as we continue our efforts to revitalize west Phoenix."
Here's a look at each of the 10 athletic projects:
- GCU Stadium: The state-of-the-art soccer facility will host its first competitive match on Friday, Aug. 26, as the GCU men's team takes on Central Florida in the 2016 season opener. The stadium features seating capacity for more than 6,000 spectators, including 3,000 shaded chairback seats. The all-natural Tifway 49 Bermuda pitch is surrounded by a 10-foot grass berm on three sides with a tailgating area on a 2,100-square-foot raised, concrete platform on the east side of the stadium. Additionally, GCU Stadium has spacious team locker rooms, offices, a satellite training room, and houses the new Student-Athlete Development Center.
- Baseball Stadium: GCU's new baseball stadium will include covered chairback seats wrapping around the infield and behind home plate as well as grass-berm seating down the first-base side. The first level of the stadium will feature bowl seating, an enclosed press box with two broadcast booths, team store and concession space. A second level of seating will be added following the 2017 season and will be ready by 2018.
- Softball Stadium: Located on the west side of campus, this new stadium will include seating for 1,500, including covered chairback seats, an expanded concourse that includes new restrooms and concession stands, and a press box equipped for radio and television broadcasts. Dimensions of the field will remain similar, stretching 204 feet down each line and 220 feet to center and will feature a 12-foot outfield wall in center field. New home and visitor's dugouts are also part of the project, which is scheduled to be completed in advance of the 2018 season.
- Basketball Practice Facility: Adjacent to Grand Canyon University Arena, the practice facility will feature one main practice court with two side practice courts, coaches offices, a player's lounge, meeting spaces, a film room for both men's and women's basketball programs and a museum of artifacts from Phoenix sports icon Jerry Colangelo, who has strong ties to the university. The facility is expected to open in January 2017.
- Student-Athlete Development Center: Located beneath the grandstand of GCU Stadium, the Academic Center houses staff members who assist student-athletes with degree program selection, graduation planning, career development planning, study skills and learning strategies. Additionally, the center includes computer workstations, a study lounge and individual and group tutoring opportunities.
- Tennis Facility: GCU tennis matches will return to campus at the 47,000-square-foot facility on the northeast side of the university. The six hard courts will feature Plexipave IW surfacing which offers all-weather durability along with the playability and shock-absorbing properties of their Plexicusion System. Plexipave is used at the Australian Open and the IW mixture was first featured at the prestigious Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.
- Beach Volleyball Stadium: The new stadium, which will be ready for the Spring 2017 season, will feature three new Division I courts with grandstand and grass-berm seating for 1,500. Intramural courts will also be built at the facility, located right in the heart of GCU campus between Cypress and Canyon Halls and looking out over Little Canyon Park.
- Equipment Room: Construction of this 2,500-square-foot facility, which serves all 21 intercollegiate athletic programs, began last summer and includes customized Spacesaver units, an ACS inventory system and industrial-sized laundry facilities. Nike entered a partnership to be the official apparel provider of GCU athletics in May 2015.
- GCU Golf Course Practice Facility: In 2015, GCU invested $10 million into a complete renovation of the former Maryvale Golf Course, located just a few miles from campus, by extending the course to a challenging 7,269-yard layout and adding a 22,000-square-foot clubhouse that includes a pro shop, restaurant, offices and a team room for the GCU men's and women's golf programs. Upcoming additions to the course include team practice areas featuring a private driving range, two private bunkers and chipping areas.
- Lopes Performance Center: The athletic training center will expand to include more areas for sports medicine that include hydrotherapy, plunge pools and exam rooms; three designated weight room training areas; cardio and rehabilitation areas; and a Gatorade Fueling Station that will assist with student-athletes' pre and post-practice nutritional needs. The expansion is due to be completed in May 2017.
In addition to all the new facilities on campus, new locker rooms will be built for women's soccer, women's volleyball, beach volleyball, softball and men's soccer.
Lopes fans will be able to follow along with the progress of the 10 facilities at GCULopes.com or by using the hashtag #GCU10in2 on Twitter.
- Charles Hampton
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