Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
Sunday was a very busy day in Bloomington. Tom Crean and his basketball squad capped off their B1G title winning regular season by shell-shocking the Maryland Terrapins and Kevin Wilson’s IU football team held the first open practice session of the Spring. Wedged in between those two events came the announcement of a $170 million fundraising campaign, meant to be split evenly between scholarships and capital improvements. Those improvements include the construction of a 3,000-seat arena that will house IU volleyball and wrestling matches, the ongoing renovation of Assembly Hall and, most importantly to football fans, the enclosure of the South End Zone of Memorial Stadium.
$124 million of the $170 million goal has already been raised, according to Indiana University athletic director Fred Glass. If fundraising allows, IU will attempt to renovate the campus golf course and Armstrong Stadium.
“This is a very significant milestone,” Glass told reporters. “A lot of work has gone into getting us to this point. Of course, we have more work to do, but we have the official stamp of approval from the university administrators and the trustees to move forward with these projects.”
$50 million of the campaign will be devoted to enclosing the South End Zone. The project will add 200-300 new seats but the seating increase is not the main focus. Rather, the addition will allow IU to upgrade the existing locker room, build a new home for academic counselling and sports nutrition and add a jumbotron. The existing jumbotron will be moved from the South End Zone to the North End Zone while construction is underway. Once the structure is built, a new jumbotron will be added to the South End Zone and Hoosier fans will have two massive video boards to enjoy.
“The most important thing is what’s going on inside that building,” Glass said. “It’s very student-athlete focused.” Glass explained that state-of-the-art nutrition, training and medical facilities will be housed inside while the west end locker room will be renovated and expanded.
Construction on the football stadium is expected to begin as soon as the 2016 season is complete and should be completed before the 2018 season. This stadium “expansion” has been discussed as far back as 2014 by both Kevin Wilson and Fred Glass. Now, after two years of significant fundraising, work is moving forward to turn IU’s athletic facilities into some of the finest in the nation.
What Does it Mean For IU Football?
These moves don’t come as a shock to those who have followed this program. Kevin Wilson and Fred Glass have both spoken about their desire to enclose the South End Zone. However, we now have a timeline and a very good idea about what all is included in this stadium expansion project. For me, this announcement comes as yet another sign that the IU administration is completely invested in having a very successful football program. Since IU’s bowl game in late December, Fred Glass has decided to do the following: extend Kevin Wilson’s contract and include a significant pay raise, invest in a new strength coach and bring him over from Baylor (a big-time program), invest in a high-profile and in-demand defensive coordinator (Tom Allen) and announce the renovation of Memorial Stadium.
Fred Glass, the IU administration and the Board of Trustees clearly understand, if you want success in high-major D1 football, you have to be willing to invest in it. No one can question that the Hoosiers have decided to do just that. Memorial Stadium and the IU football facilities should now be a selling point for this coaching staff in recruiting. Combine that with the style of play that Kevin Wilson’s teams bring to the field and the ability this coaching staff has already exhibited in establishing relationships and developing players and I think there is no denying that this program is currently on the rise.
Sunday was, indeed, a great day to be a Hoosier. Hoosier Huddle will continue to provide any necessary updates on the Memorial Stadium expansion and South End Zone project as they become available.