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A Road Map to Continued Student-Athlete Excellence

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By Arielle Sargent, 

Penn State Facilities Master Plan Website I VIDEO: Public Presentation

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics unveiled details for its Facilities Master Plan this afternoon, sharing results of a comprehensive study highlighted by five priority projects among the culmination of plans spanning the next 20 years. 

"This facilities master plan will have a huge impact over a significant period of time," director of athletics Sandy Barbour said. "It will have a huge impact on not only students and student-athletes in particular and their conditions for success, but across our entire community. "

Central to the focus of an exhaustive 17-month study, Penn State partnered with one of the world's leading architecture and sport event planning firms (Populus) to develop its road map, designed to best enhance student-athlete academic and athletic performance and fan experience, among a variety of other needs.

With careful consideration and input from multiple stakeholders, Penn State ICA also reflected the University Park campus, tailoring its vision to reflect to the materials and structural design aesthetic of its master plan.

"We're at this juncture and very excited to be at this juncture because it means we're one step closer to having these facilities, whether they be renovations or whether they be construction, for having these facilities available to our students and fans and community," Barbour said. 

Monday inside the Hintz Alumni Center, Barbour, along with deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, Phil Esten and associate athletic director for facility and event operations management, Mark Bodenschatz detailed five priority projects during the initial five years, while also providing an early look at proposed Beaver Stadium renovation renderings, among other projects within the 20-year plan.

Penn State's top two priorities both involve new construction, including the addition of a second indoor practice facility as well as the Center of Excellence, which Barbour highlighted as the cornerstone of an aspirational vision. 

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Since arriving on campus, Barbour has shaped the primary Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics approach to its purpose around its "Why," which focuses the efforts of dedicated coaches and staff members directly to the benefit of student-athlete health, welfare and development. 

Along with the Nittany Lion leadership team, Barbour has been instrumental in embedding the "Why" into the fabric of the rich tradition of academic and athletic success at Penn State.

With the mission to prepare students for a lifetime of impact, Penn State's Center of Excellence embodies all things central to creating conditions for success, providing a centralized location for student-athletes to continue to thrive.

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Anticipated to be the new hub for Penn State's 800 student-athletes, staff and coaches, the 450,000-square foot Center of Excellence is set to be constructed in the location of the current East Area Locker Room. A five-story structure, the proposed renderings including

locker rooms for seven different Nittany Lion programs as well as a centralized home for a nutrition center among other student-athlete services.

Building program and site design also includes a basement level parking garage with approximately 500 spaces.

Attached to the Center of Excellence, plans for a proposed 108,000-square foot indoor practice facility similar to Holuba Hall, highlight the second priority project. 

Perhaps unnoticed to the public, the current Holuba Hall might just be one of the busiest ICA facilities on campus. Serving up to eight programs in the fall, through the winter and spring months, Holuba Hall currently accommodates the practice, conditioning and the occasional competition schedules of up to 20 of Penn State's 31 varsity sports, while also serving rugby and the Blue Band from time to time. Hectic scheduling and unexpected weather changes also keeps the building's tightly packed schedule in full operation from as early as 5 a.m. up until nearly midnight daily.

A proposed second indoor practice facility provides space for baseball, softball, men's and women's golf, lacrosse and soccer programs in addition to an indoor workout space, putting a significant ease to a variety of aspects spanning several Nittany Lion programs. 

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Penn State's three other priority projects include the construction of a 10-lane, 50-meter Natatorium as well as a 10-court Indoor Tennis Facility. Renovations and upgrades to Jeffrey Field, home of Penn State men's and women's soccer, also round out the the projects falling in the next five-year capital plan, which is set to begin in the 2018-19 academic year. 

Strategic and exhaustive in its design and development, Penn State's facilities master plan not only provides a path to best-in-class facilities, but also aims to enhance the gameday experience for the greater community, all while looking toward future growth.

"We've identified the programming and our programming needs to provide the conditions for success for our students and student-athletes," Barbour said, noting that the plan has determined which programs fit in certain places with purpose and functionality in mind.

As Barbour noted though, with any road map comes the possibility of detours and even a little rerouting. What's undoubtedly certain though, is the step Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics has taken to ensure a bright future for its student-athletes, and like every path guided by a road map, the journey begins with a single step forward. 

"The passion at Penn State, the numbers that we represent, the community that we represent and the passion around intercollegiate athletics, I have no doubt in my mind that this community is going to support in many different ways," Barbour said. 

Reach Arielle or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

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