April 22, 2019 | 59° F

Rutgers builds on plan to renovate athletic facilities

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A mock up image of the new Gary and Barbara Rodkin Center For Academic Success is just 1 of 3 new additions that the University looks to build over the coming decades.

Over the next few decades, Rutgers will unfold $100 million in new and improved facilities for its athletes. 

In 2016, the Athletics Department announced the launch of “R Big Ten Build,” a campaign to raise funds for new and improved facilities that would put the University on par with other Big Ten schools. 

Since its commencement, Rutgers has received several donations to the project, including the most recent $15 million gift from alumni Gary and Barbara Rodkin — the biggest donation the Athletics Department has ever received. 

The University collaborated with RWJBarnabas Health and has already raised more than $92 million from more than 3,000 donors. It will distribute the funds to create several premier training facilities and centers for athletes around campus, according to the campaign's website

The first phase of these developments consists of three facilities — a Multisport Training Complex (RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center), the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Center For Academic Success with tutors and academic support for athletes and an enhanced Football Training Complex at the Hale Center. 

A livestream of the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center construction can be viewed on the department’s website. The facility will have state-of-the-art locker rooms, practice venues, strength-training and sports medicine suites, coaches' offices and meeting rooms. The project will include a four-story parking structure connected to the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).

“We are incredibly excited about this project,” said Pat Hobbs, director of Athletics, to Rutgers Today. “The RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center will make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students and the competitiveness of our programs.”

More than 600 student athletes will benefit from the project, and it is expected to cost a total of $115 million, according to Rutgers Today

NJ Advance Media reported that the Rutgers Athletics Department had a $47.3 million deficit — the department’s largest — from 2016-17. 

In addition, last month The Daily Targum reported that Rutgers Athletics spent $99.2 million, overspending its 2017 operating budget by $2.3 million. 

Hobbs previously said that the University is demonstrating a commitment to the Big Ten Conference, the Targum reported. 

“We have to gain competitiveness now. With an expectation and some certainty around future stream of payments, you can model that financially where it allows us to make investments today that we’ll pay off in the future,” he said. 

The payments refer to when Rutgers will officially become a full-equity partner in Big Ten revenue shares in the 2020-21 season. 

As of right now, the University is focused on bringing a ray of new resources to student athletes that represent the school on a national stage. 

“Rutgers Athletics will be in a position to generate a positive cash flow for the University after we receive our full share of Big Ten revenues in 2021. Membership in the Big Ten brings numerous benefits for Rutgers students, faculty and researchers, including shared academic resources and research collaborations with our peer institutions in the Big Ten,'' said Karen Ayres Smith, a Rutgers spokesperson, in a statement to NJ Advance Media.

Erica D'Costa

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