CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The University of Cincinnati on Tuesday held its groundbreaking ceremony for the new indoor practice facility and performance center, on the site of the former Sheakley Athletics Center.
John Cunningham, UC's Director of Athletics, presented the opening and closing remarks, while President Neville Pinto and lead donor Larry Sheakley shared their stories on the podium for several university staff, supporters and coaches in attendance. Sheakley and his wife, Rhonda, spearheaded the project and marked the largest single gift in UC Athletics history.
"Ever since I started here in January 2020, this was the facility everybody talked about," Cunningham said. "It was fitting of our program, particularly football, as well as all 18 sports, since they will use this facility. The real neat thing that will be a game-changer is the nutrition center that will fuel all of our student-athletes. That's Big 12 and Power-5 level, and we can only do it because of our fanbase and donors that support us."
The facility includes a 120-yard football field, to also be used by other UC programs, scheduled for completion by Fall 2024, as well as a 96,000-square-foot performance center that includes football offices, nutrition stations, a weight room and mental health services, among many others, by Fall 2025. More information, as well as renderings, can be found here.
"Going back to when I first spoke with John Cunningham and President Pinto, and they said we're doing that, that was a huge recruiting sale for me," first-year head football coach Scott Satterfield said. "I wanted to be part of a university investing in football. I said 'that's nice,' but when I saw the renderings, I was literally blown away. It's incredible. I've been able to see inside some of it and what we're gonna be able to do. They've done a phenomenal job at planning and enhancing the student-athlete experience."
Gensler and MSA Sport are serving as the architects and designers for the project, while Messer Construction is the construction manager.
"It's amazing," Sheakley said. "I grew up a Bearcat fan since I was a kid. My mom and dad were huge fans. This has been a blessing. They showed me the plans two weeks ago, and I couldn't believe it. I should have known the university would do something like that, since they are so well-known as an architecture school. I don't know what vision I had; I thought it would be a square box where they practiced football, but I had no idea it would look like an opera house. It's just beautiful."