The University of Nebraska Board of Regents meeting on Aug. 11 meeting had a significant impact on the future of Nebraska Athletics.
Along with the approval of a $128 million, 11-year contract extension with Adidas, the Regents approved the construction of a new gymnastics training facility.
Set to open in December 2019, the new facility will cost $14 million and will be constructed as an addition on the northwest side of the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The new facility will be used for training, coaches’ offices and a lobby for recruitment. The new space will house both men’s and women’s gymnastics.
The women’s team currently occupies 11,585 square feet inside Mabel Lee Hall. With that building set to be renovated, the women will be evicted from the space.
The men, who practice in a small, 6,781 square-foot room at the Devaney, will see some major improvements to their training abilities in the new facility.
Nebraska Athletics’ chief financial officer John Jentz said this change was needed for a long time.
“We needed to find them a new home,” Jentz said. “Our men have always functioned in a severely undersized facility, so it was an opportunity to address their needs and solve the problem of the women being displaced from Mabel Lee Hall at the same time.”
Men’s gymnastics head coach Chuck Chmelka said the new facility will help the team gain even more success than it already has.
“This is going to be a big help to every event,” Chmelka said. “It will really help floor exercise. Right now, in the middle of our floor, we have a trampoline because we don’t have space anywhere else to put a trampoline. Despite that, we’ve managed to be national champions in floor exercise.”
Chmelka also said the larger space will be invaluable to his athletes’ ability to train efficiently.
“Our gym is nice, but very small,” Chmelka said. “We have high bars and rings within 6 feet of each other. Our athletes always have to take turns because they can’t do those at the same time. With the new place, we’ll be able to spread out. They’ll have more equipment too and will get more quality turns. They won’t have to wait in line during training. It’s going to be really significant for us.”
The current juniors and seniors won’t get the chance to train in the new space, but Chmelka said the freshmen and sophomores on the team are beyond excited for the new facility.
More than anything else, coach Chmelka said the new building will help with recruiting new athletes.
“It should help a lot in recruiting now, knowing that [the new facility] is for sure happening,” Chmelka said. “We’ve lost a lot of really good guys to other schools just because our facilities are inadequate, and the other schools they went to have top-notch facilities. We’ve done OK with what we had, but it’ll be really nice instead of trying to hide our gym, to try and sell our gym to recruits.”
Chmelka said he’s already seen an impact on recruiting stemming from the news of the new facility.
“There are a lot of exciting things happening right now,” Chmelka said. “We’ve already had several potential recruits reach out to us because of this new space. This is really good for our athletes and we’re excited to see its impact on our program.”