Ball State launches campaign to upgrade athletic facilities
The Daily News
Ball State is officially giving its athletic department the “Bold” treatment.
The university announced on Saturday a $20 million fundraising campaign called “Cardinal Commitment” that will focus on upgrading its athletic facilities, specifically for the basketball, volleyball, football, baseball, softball and golf teams. Ball State already raised $12,893,000, or more than 64 percent of its goal before the announcement. Ball State plans to run the campaign through December 2014.
The mission to improve athletic facilities mirrors Ball State’s Bold Campaign in 2008, which raised $200 million to create new immersive learning opportunities and scholarships for students and improve the aesthetics of campus.
President Jo Ann Gora, athletic director Bill Scholl and other members of the Board of Trustees took turns speaking about their goal to improve the culture of Ball State athletics Saturday at a news conference in the Worthen Arena concourse.
“[New facilities] will allow our student athletes to have an incredible experience here as student athletes,” Scholl said in an interview. “And I think it will allow our teams to be competitive for MAC Championships and NCAA Tournament bids, and I think [the facilities] truly will be great community assets.”
In putting together its plan to build three new facilities and renovate another, Ball State tried to model its efforts after similar projects by other Mid-American Conference schools like Central Michigan, Ohio and Miami of Ohio. That led to the conception of Cardinal Commitment.
A new basketball and volleyball practice facility will be built on the northwest side of Worthen Arena with a practice court, basketball locker rooms and expanded volleyball locker rooms.
The baseball and softball diamonds will be renovated to include more team rooms, better restroom and concessions facilities and upgrades to the field and press box.
A new football complex will be installed in the southeast corner of Scheumann Stadium that will create more space for meetings and hold a new locker room.
A new golf practice facility will finalize the main objectives of the project, housing hitting bays, a putting green and locker rooms for both golf teams. The university still hasn’t decided on its location, with Scholl only saying it will be on a golf course close to campus.
The idea behind the project began at least a year prior to the announcement with athletic director Tom Collins and Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer Randy Howard leading it.
Every cent of the $20 million will come from donations, Gora said. The money has to be raised privately because the state does not invest funds in athletics.
While introducing each building, Scholl also mentioned Ball State’s desire to install new video boards at Scheumann Stadium and inside Worthen Arena, but they will be separate additions from the campaign.
As one of Scholl’s original platform points during his introduction as the new athletic director a year ago, fundraising has become a focus for Ball State athletics.
“Fundraising is a people-intensive process,” Gora said. “Obviously, we’re pretty good at it since we were successful in a 200 million dollar campaign for the rest of the campus, so we believe we have the strategy going forward.”
Board of Trustees member and Cardinal Commitment chair Frank Hancock spoke during the announcement Saturday about Ball State’s commitment to make the project successful.
“If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right — period,” Hancock said. “This is a one-shot opportunity, I believe, in my lifetime and a lot of people’s. Let’s do it right or don’t do it [at all].”
Scholl said the start of construction on the new facilities could begin within “three, four, maybe five years,” depending on which building Ball State is ready to put into place.
In order to make that happen, Gora said Ball State will have to sell the project’s importance to people connected to the university.
“It involves really making the case for why investing in the university is really going to make a difference both in the community and for our students,” she said.