Rutgers officials discussing plan to upgrade the Hale Center football headquarters

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015

The latest concept being discussed in a wide-ranging plan to enhance Rutgers University's athletics facilities calls for a renovation to the Hale Center that would accommodate the football program, an official familiar with the preliminary plans told NJ Advance Media.

The Hale Center is the home of the football program's training, administrative and academic resource facilities, but it also houses the men's soccer and men's and women's lacrosse teams.

The official, who requested anonymity because the plan is in its deliberative stage, said the concept calls for the men's and women's soccer teams, the men's and women's lacrosse teams and possibly other Olympic sports programs to move into a training center housed underneath the south end zone bleachers at High Point Solutions Stadium, which remains unfinished after cost-cutting measures restricted the building of locker rooms in the $102 million stadium expansion seven years ago.

The south end zone build out presumably would include multiple locker rooms, a state-of-the-art weight room, a training room with medical equipment and an academic center, the official said.

Although the concept is in its deliberative stage, the plan is believed to have the preliminary support of Scarlet Knights football coach Kyle Flood and top Rutgers administrators, according to the official familiar with the discussions that took place over the weekend.

Rutgers President Robert Barchi was unavailable for comment Monday, while Flood and Scarlet Knights athletic director Julie Hermann declined to be interviewed on the topic of facilities.

"Nothing has been decided,'' said Pete McDonough, Rutgers' senior vice president for external affairs, when asked for a comment from the Rutgers president. "We're still looking at options. We've got planners and architects and others reviewing various options on how we can do what's best for the university in a fiscally responsible way.''

The plan to allow the football program to take full control of the Hale Center is expected to be discussed with top donors in early May, and could be brought before the university governing boards as part of a wide-ranging athletics facilities upgrade in early June.

It would be presumably rolled out along with the plan that calls for a basketball gymnasium and coaching offices to be built on top of a yet-to-be-built parking garage on the current lot elbowed between the Rutgers Athletic Center and the new Rutgers Business School building.

NJ Advance Media reported on April 3 that university officials are discussing a concept to build a combination parking deck/basketball
practice facility as part of a multi-phase plan to upgrade Rutgers' athletics facilities.

Barchi has declined comment on specific concepts but he told NJ Advance Media in early April that a formal plan to upgrade the athletics facilities on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campuses is expected to be unveiled at the university Board of Governors meeting scheduled for June 18.

Since the plans are in their deliberative stages, there are no known conceptual designs of any athletics facility projects at this point. While a portion of the basketball-facility project could be covered through tax credits that are available for developing mixed-use parking projects, it's not known how much a redesigned Hale Center and south-end zone stadium build out would cost.

Top Rutgers officials have said any athletics facilities built in the short-term future will be funded in large measure by private fundraising.

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