Just a few years ago in 2012, talk of a George Mason dedicated practice facility almost became a reality. Now that we are in the early stages of fundraising for one, we decided to revisit what Mason planned to do in the past and how that could shape what our future facility will look like.
The current plan for the dedicated practice facility is set to be an extension of the RAC, a 120,000 sq foot gym facility, which is just a quick golf cart ride from EagleBank Arena (formerly the Patriot Center) and a quick walk from the academic center of campus. The 2012 proposal called for the practice facility to be built right off of the Patriot Center.
Many schools like the University of Virginia have practice facilities built adjacent to or into their arenas. Although this is convenient, it can also lead to issues down the line. Due to the nature of the use of EagleBank Arena, a multipurpose arena hosting major events periodically throughout the year, having a separate practice would be more beneficial — at least in my opinion. The age of EagleBank Arena could also mean future renovations or expansions. Leaving that area clear for future use is a smart move.
According to the summary provided to the Board of Visitors, the future basketball practice facility will have basketball courts, strength and conditioning rooms, dedicated locker rooms, team lounges, offices for coaches and a video screening room. When we look at the old proposed facility, it included many of the same amenities, but lacked video screening rooms and team lounges.
Unlike the current plan for the practice facility, the old one had an academic center built into the facility. This included a small library, study rooms and a computer lab (below shown as part of the facility’s full floor plan).
The current plan includes building a separate facility just for academic support. According to the same BOV documents, the facility will include study rooms, some administrative offices and a “technology rich Academic Resource Center” which we can assume will include computer labs and additional resources key for academic success of our athletes.
There was also just one and a half basketball courts in the old plan. The current plan calls for the renovation of the cage gym in the RAC, which is a large multi-use space that can easily house two to three courts (one to one and a half courts for men and women’s team use).
The Size of the Facility:
The old proposal called for a 18,030 sq foot facility, 5,560 of that was solely for academic support areas and the remaining space was for utilities (500 sq ft) and the basketball practice space (11,970 sq ft). The RAC based facility will be 14,500 sq ft which is smaller than the 2012 proposal, but it is a larger space for basketball use. Combine that with the academic building being built across the street from the facility, the combined square footage comes to 21,500 sq ft.
Who Designed The Facility:
The 2012 design was done by HKS, an architecture firm that has done work for University of North Texas, TCU, Navy and other collegiate clients. The new design was done by VMDO, another firm that has done tons of work in the state. They’re also the architects behind VCU’s and UVA’s facilities.
As of now, there aren’t any released floor plans for the new facility.
Get those check books ready!