Athletics Director: Chippewa Champion Alumni Center to cost $32 million

Chippewa Champion Center field view

Athletics Director Michael Alford told members of the Finance and Facilities Committee that construction of the Chippewa Champions Alumni Center is projected to cost about $32 million and could be complete in 2021. 

During the committee presentation, Alford requested $10 million to be paid out over 10 years and a one time contribution of $5 million from the university's financial reserves. In December, Alford announced that alumni and donors contributed $2.5 million to fund the project. At Thursday's meeting, he said that number is now $5.2 million. 

There is also a $1 million pledge, Alford announced, from a "very strong donor who represents the university."

Alford stressed that the building will be a "revenue source" with several amenities and rental spaces. Boxes and high-level seating will also be added. Still, one member of the committee seemed to support the project but questioned the need to contribute $15 million toward it at this time.

"I generally support the idea. Me, personally, I would like to challenge us first to get some more money," said Trustee Richard Studley. "I know we have some fairly high-profile asks coming, so I would feel a lot more comfortable if we tried talking to some of those potential donors to see if we can push some of that money toward (the project)."  

Committee members updated the full board of trustees at its June 28 meeting. No action was taken. The board will likely review the project proposal at its September meeting. 

The $32 million projection includes $1.5 million for a new scoreboard, located at the south end of the field. The facility will be located on the north side of Kelly/Shorts Stadium where the scoreboard, locker room and training/equipment room are located. 

The football team's current locker room, which was built decades ago, was designed for 70 players. There are 110 players on the fall 2018 roster. The project also includes a nutrition center and rehabilitation center for athletes, as well as a new locker room. The design includes several meeting spaces, an alumni center, CMU Advancement team offices and a "faculty and staff club" that Vice President for Advancement Robert Martin said will be used to "have drinks, share intellectual knowledge at happy hour."

 Roughly one third of the center will be utilized as the alumni center, while the rest will be devoted to the "Chippewa Champions," or student athletes.

"We believe that this facility will help recruit not only the best students across the entire campus while providing a sense of pride for our returning alumni," Alford said. "It's about One CMU. It's hard to put a price tag on it."