by John Roth, Blue Devil Weekly
DURHAM, N.C. - Duke plans to break ground on its long-awaited basketball training facility this summer, according to athletics department officials.
An executive committee of the Board of Trustees last month granted approval for the project to get underway. Duke plans to begin clearing trees from the site and establishing the construction footprint for the 56,000 square foot structure as soon as it receives the necessary permits from the city of Durham. Director of athletics Joe Alleva said he expected this work to begin within a few weeks.
The Board of Trustees still must approve the final blueprints for the project. A review is expected at the board’s meeting in September.
The training facility has been in the works for over two years. It first came to light publicly during July of 2004 when the Los Angeles Lakers were courting coach Mike Krzyzewski, although preliminary discussions about the need for a training center had begun a few months before that.
The building is expected to cost at least $15 million, and university officials indicated that funding had to be secured before construction could begin. Mike Cragg, assistant athletics director and head of the Duke Basketball Legacy Fund, said that $14 million has been raised to date.
Alleva said fundraising would continue throughout construction, with a goal of about $17 million to cover potential cost overruns and building maintenance.
The facility, which will be built adjacent to Cameron Indoor Stadium, will feature two full basketball courts, a weight training and conditioning area, a video viewing suite and a legacy locker room for former players to use when they are training at Duke during the offseason. All of the facilities will be for use by the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
The building is being called the Center for Athletic Excellence, but there are two other aspects that make it an even more compelling addition to the athletics complex. It will house a new academic center for all of Duke’s 600-plus student athletes, conveniently located and equipped with all the necessary resources. There will also be a large special events area to accommodate banquets and other functions across the entire university community.
Duke will build the two-story structure parallel to Cameron, across from the arena’s Hall of Honor. There will be an outdoor plaza or courtyard between the Hall of Honor and the new center. A tower at the southwest corner will serve as a gateway for student-athlete access to the academic center.
Krzyzewski says the timing of the facility is propitious given the increased scrutiny of Duke athletics in the aftermath of the lacrosse incident this spring.
“This building will produce amazing opportunities that weren’t afforded our athletes beforehand,” he said. “There will be a couple of floors where we’ll create office space for new programs, new counseling programs, new development programs.
“I call this a center for excellent human performance and it comes at a good time because we’re going to come up with these programs. Not just a code of conduct or a code of values (for student-athletes), we’re going to put into principle some of these counseling services that will be easier, user-friendly for our athletes to go to.”
The two Duke basketball teams currently utilize Cameron and Card Gym for their practice sessions, but neither is considered an adequate space. The programs will continue to operate out of their office space in the Schwartz Butters Center, and they will continue to use the team locker rooms that were added to the ground floor of Cameron six years ago.