With the final beam of the press box in place at Wildcat Stadium and the Halbert-Walling Research Center nearing completion, the construction projects around campus are in full swing. However, the drum of jackhammers and the beeping of machinery will not leave campus once those projects are finished as the Department of Athletics is moving forward with two new projects.
As of last week, funds have been raised to move forward with a $1.6 million tennis clubhouse, and a $1.25 renovation of Teague Special Events Center that will make it more closely resemble the outside of Wildcat Stadium.
Director of athletics Lee De Leon said the two-story, 4,000-square-foot facility will give the team an opportunity to have lockers, coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and a training room, which are currently spread out around campus.
“We’ve been talking about this tennis clubhouse type of concept for awhile, and we just needed to raise the money and we were finally able to secure the $1.6 million that we needed to move forward with the construction of the project,” De Leon said.
With offices and meeting rooms scattered across campus, head tennis coach Hutton Jones said the facility will give the teams a consistent place to meet other than outside on the tennis courts.
“We had a great thing before, but the missing thing was a place here on campus,” Jones said. “Soccer has a place to meet, track has a place to meet, football is about to have an excellent place to meet. It has just been needed.”
Senior tennis player Erin Walker, who has played a key role in the women’s success over the last four years, said the facility will give the program a complete and official look.
“From a player perspective, the facility will help by having a place where the team can consistently meet,” Walker said. “It will just be nice to have everything in one place, I think it will feel like a home to the players.”
Jones said recruiting relies heavily on the team, the coach and school itself, but a facility like this could potentially be a big part of potential athletes decision.
“When you see a school’s commitment to having these type of facilities, I think they know that tennis is a big part of the school,” Jones said.
The majority of the funding for the project, De Leon said, was given to recognize and honor head tennis coach Hutton Jones’ father.
“We started the process and had the vision many many years ago it’s just quite a bit of money to raise for a tennis coach, but I wanted to do this in honor of my family,” Jones said.
The building is set to be named in honor of Jones’ father, who De Leon said played a large part in tennis’ program’s from a walk-on program to scholarship program.
Similar to the the plan to build the tennis facility, the renovation of Teague has been in the making for some time. De Leon said the $1.25 million required for the project was set aside in 1998 by the anonymous donor for future renovations.
“We’re using the funds that are already here in that Teague renovation fund to pull this off,” De Leon said.
The motivation behind the renovation was encouraged by the donor, who wanted the exterior look and feel of Teague to match the eventual Wildcat Stadium. With that in mind, De Leon said athletics began working on a concept to freshen up Teague. This includes moving the entrance of the athletics offices to Teague’s main lobby and enclosing the overhang with glass.
“We’re going to basically transform the current Teague lobby and this new glass front and this is going to be kind of a showcase for ACU athletics,” De Leon said.
De Leon said each of these projects, as well as most of athletics expansion is privately funded and only possible because of donors.
“Everything will be privately funded, no money is going to come from the students or the school, it’s money that’s coming from donors,” De Leon said. “While the facilities are growing and expanding, that’s only possible because people are giving to that.”
No official timetable has been set for the completion of these facilities but the hope is that they will be operational early next fall.