Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Basketball practice facility in 2015, signs say
An artist's rendering shows a proposed basketball practice facility on the University of Arkansas campus.
Sign boards displayed in Bud Walton Arena Friday night indicated Arkansas' basketball practice facility will open in the summer 2015.
The sign encourages fans to contact the Razorback Foundation, the athletics department's private fundraising arm, to donate money for the facility. Arkansas officials have been fundraising for a facility, estimated to cost around $25 million, for a year, though fundraising efforts have not gone as well as hoped.
"I've never had a facility that I've gotten more resistance about in a fan base than I have this basketball practice facility," UA athletics director Jeff Long said in September.
"I talked to my colleagues around the country and none of them have had pushback from folks about a basketball practice facility."
The facility would be built across the street from Arkansas' 20-year-old arena, next to the university's softball stadium. Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said in August that construction would begin soon, though no official announcement has been made.
The basketball practice facility is one of three in Phase II of the Razorbacks' facilities master plan, along with a dual-sport practice facility for baseball and track, and an academics center for athletes.
The baseball/track facility, with an estimated price tag of $9.6 million, is under construction and scheduled to be completed next spring. The university's board of trustees approved $36.5 million in bonds earlier this year to help pay for all three projects, which have a combined estimated cost of between $45 million and $58 million. UA administrators have expressed desire to pay back the cost of the bonds through private donations.
Arkansas is the only school in the Southeastern Conference without a basketball practice facility. Coaches and administrators have cited competitive disadvantage and academics as the primary reasons for needing one.
"I think it's much needed here," Anderson said in August. "You look at all the schools around the country, the type of players now want to have access to facilities where they can develop. We've got to have facilities that match our competitors."