The University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents voted on Friday to approve a new, privately funded Gopher Wrestling facility within Athletes Village, the final step towards breaking ground on a project decades in the making.
“Our wrestling program has needed a new practice space for quite a while, well before I first came work for Gopher Athletics back in 2001.” said Athletics Director Mark Coyle. “The program has succeeded at the highest levels despite the challenges of its current practice space, which is too small and showing its age. This new facility will be a better, safer space for wrestlers to train. We’re grateful for the donors who invested in this project, the latest in a series of ambitious improvements to the everyday facilities used by Gopher student-athletes.”
The new wrestling facility will be a complete renovation of Bierman Gym inside the Bierman Athletic Center. Formerly the practice facility for Gopher Men’s Basketball, this space became available with the completion of the Athletes Village, which includes the Cunningham Basketball Performance Center. With its move to the new facility, the wrestling team will leave behind the cramped wrestling room deep in the Bierman basement that the program has called home since the early 1970s.
“We would like to thank the generous supporters that made this wrestling facility a reality,” said Head Coach Brandon Eggum. “Many All-Americans, National Champions, National Team Championships and lifelong friendships were made in that old basement. We are bringing all those past successes with us to our new facility, where we plan to build another era of greatness for this incredible program.
“We are welcoming one of the nation’s top recruiting classes this fall and those freshmen, along with all our returning guys and every future Gopher wrestler, will have everything they need right at their fingertips now. Starting later this year, our facility will be at the center of Athletes Village, in the same building as our brand-new Nutrition Center and the Lindahl Academic Center. We now have a truly complete facility for our program.”
This project will renovate 9,300 square feet of gym space, with approximately 7,500 square feet of dedicated mat space. Natural light will fill the space from the oversized, floor-to-ceiling windows. A 1,100-square-foot cardio room will be safely partitioned just off the mat. There will also be plenty of viewing space at mat level, one of the many firsts for the program in this new facility. A new mezzanine level above the practice room will offer great views as well. The mezzanine will include new coaches’ offices, a video room, and a lounge where the program’s storied history will be on display.
With Friday’s Board approval, it is expected that work on the facility will begin later this spring and be completed by November 2018.
The wrestling facility is the latest in several major projects aimed at improving the facilities used by Gopher student-athletes every day to study, eat, train and practice. Athletes Village opened in January after more than two years of construction. This September, the University will open a new outdoor track and field stadium steps from the Athletes Village doors. Along with the wrestling facility, this winter the Board also approved construction of a new indoor golf practice facility located at the University’s Les Bolstad Golf Course, which is expected to open early next winter. All of these projects will be funded through private donations and athletics revenue.
Updated renderings of the new wrestling facility will be released as soon as possible.