UM Regents approve Oosterbaan renovations

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan’s new weight room/football performance center and renovations to Oosterbaan Field House have been approved by the University of Michigan Regents.

The $21 million project that will be funded by athletic department resources and gifts will provide a 32,000-square foot performance center that will be built within the 78,000 square-foot Oosterbaan Field House. A 5,000-square-foot mezzanine level also will be added. Oosterbaan is adjacent and connected to Schembechler Hall and also connected to Glick Field House, which are both facilities for football.

It is expected to be completed by the winter of 2018.

Oosterbaan, which was built in 1980 and in need of a number of updates, also is the indoor facility for men’s and women’s lacrosse and is used for indoor practices for several varsity sports, as well as for club sports.

Michigan student Nate Fisher, a member of the UM rugby club team, addressed the Regents on Thursday and asked that construction of the weight room be delayed until a solution can be found for the displaced club sports. There are 31 club sports at Michigan and nearly one-third, Fisher said, use Oosterbaan for practice and competition.

“Our clubs are extremely grateful to use varsity facilities, including Oosterbaan, to accommodate our desires to compete and train at a high level year around,” Fisher told the Regents. “As devoted Michigan football fans ourselves, we recognize and respect the team’s need to upgrade their training facilities. We wanted to communicate to you how this project with adversely affect our programs and 350 of our teammates.”

Athletic department officials have met with club sport representatives to discuss details of the project and options for the club sports.

“We appreciate their plans will provide our teams with a suitable alternative to what we are losing at Oosterbaan, but the reality is the impact on our community will be significant,” Fisher said. “What they are able to provide will not fill our competitive needs.”

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel attended the Regents meeting and said he also has heard concerns from some of the varsity team coaches about how the Oosterbaan changes will affect their sports.

Manuel said that once the new indoor track facility is built, the current indoor track and tennis building will be fitted with 104 yards of turf in addition to the 75 yards in Oosterbaan.

“In totality, that will be more space for our student-athletes and our club student-athletes, as well,” Manuel said. “I’ve heard concerns from all sides. I definitely understand and will continue to work to provide the best facilities for our varsity teams and for our club sports and rec teams.”