Ann Arbor — Michigan football and basketball have their own facilities with top-notch training equipment and locker rooms, and now athletes involved in rowing, track and field and lacrosse have access to a state-of-the art, all-encompassing facility.
Reporters toured the 280,000-square-foot South campus Performance Center, which was unveiled late last November to student-athletes, on Tuesday. It is in the same complex as the varsity tennis center and gymnastics and wrestling facilities.
Among the highlights, a massive indoor track and field with a hydraulic track, indoor rowing tanks and a 2,000-seat lacrosse stadium. The $168-million project was privately funded, including a $100 million gift from Stephen Ross. No tax dollars were used.
There are designated locker rooms in the slick 20,000-square-foot strength and conditioning center. More than 500 student-athletes have been training out of the facility since December, and there are accommodations for men’s and women’s lacrosse, the track and field teams and cross country, rowing and soccer. Wrestling, tennis and women’s gymnastics also use the center.
“The reaction has been outstanding, and everyone’s loving it,” said Rob Rademacher, Michigan senior associate athletic director and chief operating officer. “We really tried to create a community and campus.”
It will make its public debut Saturday when Michigan hosts the Wolverine Invitational track and field meet.
“This weekend when we have our first meet, you’re going to see a lot of these teams going, ‘Oh my God, look what Michigan built,’ which really helps us from a recruiting perspective,” Rademacher said.
Rademacher and his team toured a number of college facilities, saying Air Force’s similarly sized performance center most closely resembles Michigan’s. He also said all of the coaches, who have seen facilities in this country and around the world, offered input on what the center needed most.
Project manager Steve Donoghue said team use of the center is restricted between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. During that “Academic Period” teams can’t work out and train during class time. If a student-athlete doesn’t have a class, Donoghue said, he or she can use the facility.
The South Performance Center features a state-of the-art medical and recovery area. There are three therapeutic pools, two treadmills in water “booths” and anti-gravity treadmills for rehab, conditioning and training.
There are 30 treatment tables, stem machines, ultrasound machines, lasers, hot packs, cold packs, massage units for preventive therapy or for injury rehab, Darryl Conway, senior associate athletic director and chief health and welfare officer, pointed out.
There are six exam rooms, a room where a student-athlete can get an IV if needed or sutures, there’s a room designated for casts or splints, there are traction tables, a secured medication room, a diagnostics room with a mini-X-ray machine and an EKG machine, offices for physicians, and a nutrition and counseling area.
To head upstairs in the facilities, athletes have the option to use the regular stairs, the “plyo” stairs or a ramp that’s designed at a 22-percent incline. There are elevators, also.
Student-athletes can grab a bite before or after workouts, including custom smoothies in the “fueling station” area.
“It’s the investment in the rehab and treatment of the student-athletes and making sure they’re able to compete and stay healthy,” Rademacher said. “It’s one of the things we emphasized in the project.”
The indoor track facility was a long time coming. There’s a 200-meter track and also a 300-meter practice track.
“The thought behind that was, the stress, again, on the student-athletes on running on a 200-meter every day on those tight turns is a little bit more on their bodies,” Rademacher said. “So we put in a 300-meter track, which even has a softer surface than the 200-meter, so distance runners can run and it also creates an efficiency for practice where they’re not interfering with the sprinters.”
There’s also a new outdoor track, giving Michigan plenty of space should it want to host a Big Ten championship. There is a designated space for visiting team locker rooms for track.
“The vision behind this was hosting championships,” Rademacher said. “We really created a lot of multi-use spaces for hosting a meet.”