If you build it, wins will come

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UVU athletic facilities need upgrades to stay ahead of the competition

UVU Review head shots on the Wasatch Campus of Utah Valley University in Heber City, Utah, Friday August 7, 2015. (August Miller, UVU Marketing)

Kyle McDonald | Sports editor | @kylesportsbias

Sports column

In the big business of college sports, universities are constantly upgrading their facilities. The University of Utah is building a new $36 million basketball facility as well as making upgrades to Rice-Eccles Stadium. It is part of staying competitive in the Pac-12 Conference. BYU has upgraded the Marriot Center with more stadium-seating as well as building a new basketball annex. It is all part of the plan to be able to recruit better and continue to be nationally relevant. Both schools have built indoor practice facilities as well as state of the art buildings for their student-athletes.
Utah State University has even gotten in the mix as they are making upgrades to their football stadium and completed a project just a few years ago on a new student-athlete building. They also built a 32,000 square foot basketball practice facility and volleyball competition venue. Add to that, the fact that they just got $1.5 million from the Utah State Legislature and USU is sitting pretty.
Even though Utah Valley University might not be at the same level competitively or financially as those three schools mentioned above, they still have to keep up in order to get better and become more competitive. This is especially true considering the upgrades that Grand Canyon University and Seattle University have made in their athletic department facilities. GCU is in the process of building a new soccer stadium that will have a capacity of 6,000 and might be a smaller model of some Major League Soccer stadiums.
Seattle University is upgrading the Connolly Complex so that it meets Title IX requirements. It will enhance the student-athlete and spectator experience by upgrading seating and visual enhancements.
The need for a student-athlete building with a weight room, classrooms, video rooms, and locker rooms for each specific team is great at UVU. UVU has been an NCAA Division I program since 2003 and their facilities are still stuck in their days as a junior college. The softball field doesn’t have any lights or a press box. Clyde Field, which is home to two of the best teams at UVU, doesn’t have a press box, a grandstand on the west side, or locker rooms. The basketball teams have mixed practice schedules depending on which gym is available. Is that the way it should be for an NCAA Division I team? Or should the school be willing to fork over some money to build a practice facility? Did you know that the student-athletes have to go to study hall in a mobile building and that the only Division I wrestling program in the state practices in the same building? How is it that the university can afford to lay down turf and put up lights for the intramural fields? But they can’t put up lights on their Division I softball field?
If you want to win, you have to keep up. New facilities, or upgraded facilities will bring in better recruits, help build a fan base, and bring in new sponsors and donors. It will give you a leg-up in the world of college athletics. Here is to hoping that the UVU administration will take a look into improving these elements of their program.