Marquette University kicked off Finals Week on campus by announcing that they will soon break ground on the long planned Athletic Performance Research Center (APRC) on campus.
However, it will not be the APRC that was originally announced nearly three years ago. Instead of the planned fieldhouse style facility south of Straz Tower that university president Dr. Michael Lovell described at his state of the university address in January of 2015, the APRC will be smaller and located directly across the street from the Al McGuire Center on 12th Street. This is the space currently occupied by the surface parking lot just north of Zilber Hall, and while the lot is next to Schroeder Field, the artist’s rendering as seen above seems to indicate that the grassy space will remain untouched by the construction.
Lovell said the following about the new design and plan in the university press release:
“This new location is smarter and more convenient for our student-athletes, faculty and staff that will be housed in the APRC,” President Michael R. Lovell said. “While the location has changed, our vision to advance our mission through innovative sports and human performance research remains unchanged.”
According to the press release, the new APRC will be built in phases, but the priority for the first phase will be space for faculty researchers in the areas of athletic performance, locker rooms for both men’s and women’s lacrosse as well as the golf team, and strength and conditioning space for the athletic department. The locker rooms for lacrosse is perhaps the most significant part of the construction. In February, head coaches Joe Amplo and Meredith Black will begin the sixth season of competition for their two teams and are already into their teams’ seventh school year on campus. Neither team has had a permanent dedicated locker room on campus at any point in the programs’ existence.
The elimination of the fieldhouse design has somewhat been looming for a while now. In January of 2016, Dr. Lovell announced in his state of the university address that Aurora Health Care was partnering with Marquette on that version of the APRC and that construction would begin in 2017. However, in May of 2016, just four months later, Marquette announced plans to break ground on a new $96 million residence hall. Five months after that, in October of 2016, the university was already underway on construction necessary for the seasonal bubble over the middle playing surface at Valley Fields. Once spring of 2017 rolled around without a backhoe in the empty space south of Straz Tower, it was becoming rapidly apparent that the university had made a decision to make a capital investment on their primary focus of housing students in a modern building instead of constructing a fieldhouse for recreational purposes. In fact, the seasonal bubble is touted in the press release on the new version of the APRC as eliminating the need for the full fieldhouse version south of Straz Tower.
You can read more about the new APRC in the official press release.