GCU adding 10 new sports facilities in 2 years
By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
New construction projects in Grand Canyon University’s $1 billion expansion continue to transform the campus, and GCU athletes and visitors alike will benefit from the 10 new state-of-the-art sports facilities scheduled to be completed within the next two years.
The “GCU 10 in 2” initiative begins Aug. 26 with the opening of 3,000-seat GCU Stadium, which will host GCU athletics and University events.
“This is a historic time for our athletic program as we enter the final year of our four-year transition period to Division I athletics,” said Mike Vaught, vice president of athletics. “We want to be Top 25 in everything that we do, and these incredible facilities will help us continue to compete at the highest level and strive for excellence both academically and athletically. I can’t think of another university in the country that has embarked on such an ambitious construction project in such a short time frame, but that’s how we do things at GCU.”
Men’s soccer coach Schellas Hyndman, who ranks sixth in NCAA history in men’s soccer victories, said GCU Stadium will be “one of the best fields in collegiate soccer.” The stadium, which sits on the west end of campus, has natural grass in addition to 10-foot berms on three sides, bringing the capacity to 6,000.
Vaught said GCU is focusing on soccer because “Phoenix is a soccer community and we’ve got all the key ingredients for a national contending men and women’s soccer program — support from President Brian Mueller, the only Division I men’s soccer team in the state of Arizona and a Hall of Fame coach.”
The other construction projects are new baseball and softball stadiums, a basketball practice facility, Student-Athlete Development Center, beach volleyball stadium, tennis facility, an equipment room and additions to the GCU Championship Golf Course and the Lopes Performance Center.
- At the far west side of campus, the baseball stadium will be a two-tier project that will increase seating capacity to 3,000. The first level will feature chair-back seats that wrap around the infield, grass berm seating down the first-base side, a team store and concession space. A second level of seating will be added following the 2017 season and be ready for 2018.
- The softball stadium, which will seat 1,500, will also be completed in two phases. The field will be pushed farther northeast by February. Chair-back seats, an expanded concourse, new restrooms and concessions, and a press box will be added in advance of the 2018 season.
- The basketball practice facility is being constructed just west of GCU Arena. It will feature a lounge area, meeting spaces, offices and a viewing deck that overlooks practice courts for the men’s and women’s programs. The 24,000-square-foot facility, which is expected to open in January, will give student-athletes a “place to call home,” Vaught said. The main entrance also will house a museum of artifacts from Phoenix sports and business icon Jerry Colangelo, who has strong ties to the university.
- Three new beach volleyball courts with grandstand seating will be ready for the start of the spring 2017 season. Intramural courts also will be built at the facility, located right in the heart of campus between Cypress and Canyon halls.
- On the opposite side of campus, east of 30th Drive and between Missouri and Colter, six new tennis courts will return GCU intercollegiate matches to campus. The new courts will be used by the varsity teams, club teams and classes for a new tennis management degree program offered through the Colangelo College of Business. “We are happy to be able to train and compete on campus in front of the student body,” said Gregory Prudhomme, men’s and women’s tennis coach. “I’m sure that the courts will be filled up by students and faculty.”
- In 2015, GCU invested $10 million into a complete renovation of the former Maryvale Golf Course by extending the course and adding a shop, restaurant, offices and a team room for the GCU men’s and women’s golf programs. Future additions to the course include team practice areas featuring a private driving range, two private bunkers and chipping areas.
- The Student-Athlete Development Center is located beneath the stands of GCU Stadium and will assist student athletes with academic resources, computers and a study lounge.
- The Lopes Performance Center will impact student athletes through the enhancement of fitness training and sports medicine care.
- A new 2,500-square-foot equipment room will serve all 21 NCAA intercollegiate athletic programs.
Such improvements drive recruitment and retention and put the University on track with other top schools in the country, Vaught said.
“From President Mueller all the way down there is an expectation for excellence here, and that’s what we’re striving for every day,” Vaught said.
Lopes fans will be able to follow the progress of the 10 facilities at GCULopes.com or by using the hashtag #GCU10in2 on Twitter.
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or [email protected].