The Daily Illini

Ubben renovation project receives $1 million gift

By Meghan Rest, Sports Editor

The 20-year-old Ubben Basketball Practices facility is getting a facelift, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman announced in June.

Whitman, who was joined by head men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood and head women’s basketball coach Nancy Fahey for the announcement in June, outlined plans to fundraise approximately $30 million for the renovation.

In addition to adding 45,000 square feet to the facility and revamping over 8,300 square feet of existing space, the project will also feature two new half courts in both women’s and men’s gyms as well as a two-story strength and conditioning room, player lounges, and a modern sports medicine area.

According to Whitman, who enters his fourth season at the helm of Illini Athletics, the bulk of the fundraising will come from gifts.

While there’s no word on when ground will officially be broken, the project is $1 million closer to it’s $30 million fundraising goal thanks to a gift from University of Illinois alumni Dennis and Katharine Swanson. Whitman announced the gift August 30, which also includes a donation to the State Farm Center and Campbell Hall for Public Telecommunications within the College of Media, according to fightingillini.com.

Dennis is an Illinois basketball alumnus and touts a decorated career in media including executive positions as: President of ABC Sports, President for ABCs Daytime and Children’s Programming, President and General Manager of WNBC-TV in New York and co-chair of NBC Olympics, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of CBS Television Stations Inc., and President of Station Operations for Fox Television Stations Group.

According to fightingillini.com, Swanson is also a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in addition to hiring a young Oprah Winfrey and persuading the International Olympic Committee to stagger the summer and winter Olympic Games.

“We are very excited to announce this gift from Dennis and Kathy,” Whitman said, per fightingillini.com. “Illinois Basketball has been a great passion of the Swanson family since Dennis’ days on our campus. Throughout Dennis’ remarkable career, he led many successful efforts to build great teams, and he understands the importance of resources to do so. With this gift, Dennis is again taking an active role in a build process, and our state-of-the-art facility will be critical to our success. During Dennis’ time with Illinois Basketball he was surrounded by some of the game’s best; with such an impactful gift, he is helping Illinois Basketball produce another generation of greats. Our thanks to Dennis and Kathy for such generous support of our bold vision for the future of Illinois Basketball.”

According to Whitman, the $30 million Ubben expansion is a component of the DIA’s $300 million fundraising goal and part of the “With Illinois” $2.25 billion University-wide fundraising campaign.

The announcement also comes after the completion of the 107,650-square foot, $79.2 million Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center and the groundbreaking of Demirjian Park last year and the construction of the Susan and Clint Atkins Indoor Baseball Training Center, which was announced last fall.

Construction of the new soccer fields was projected to be completed in time for the 2019 season, while the entire Demirjian Park facility will be completed by the 2020 soccer season and set the stage for Illinois to host the 2021 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The 26,000 square-foot Susan and Clint Atkins Indoor Baseball Training Center is looking at a 2021 completion date. 

The renovations of Ubben will take approximately three years to complete, although there have been no announcements of a project timeline for the updates, according to fightingillini.com.

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@meghan_rest

 
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