Cintas Center starts work on a new auxiliary gym for MBB, WBB and VB
By Joseph Cotton, Education and Enrichment Coordinator
Cintas Center broke ground on a new auxiliary gym and practice facility set to open at the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year.
The facility will be utilized by all three of the tenants in Cintas, including men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball. The new facility will allow for more scheduling freedom with off season workouts as well as other team and individual practices.
“At this level, you want your athletes to have access to facilities 24/7,” Associate Athletic Director for Basketball Administration Mario Mercurio said. “There should always be an open net or hoop available.”
Mercurio also spoke to the shifting attitudes among athletes in Division I athletics. In the early 2000s, athletes rarely stayed on campus during the summer months and coaches didn’t have a full off-season to work with athletes. Since then, rules have relaxed and student-athletes have been able to practice all year round. Student athletes are more focused on going to the next level and are expecting to have more access to the facilities that will help them on their journeys.
“When the Cintas Center was first built, it was built through that lens,” Mercurio said. “If you have three tenets and only two spaces, you’re already setting yourself up for a log jam.”
According to Mercurio, the new auxiliary gym serves an immediate practical need for athletics. Cintas had difficulty accommodating all three teams in the summer as the facilities were being used for different events throughout the season. Mercurio noted that teams would practice at local high schools when facilities weren’t available to use.
In addition to the new practice facility, the weight room was also expanded for the beginning of the academic year. According to Mercurio, both of these additions will aid in recruitment efforts for the three teams housed in Cintas.
“Anytime you’re building facilities in college athletics, you’re thinking about recruiting and having that next big piece to lure in new recruits and keep up with the arms race that is college athletics,” Mercurio added.
He highlighted the importance of providing quality resources for student-athletes.
“This is where they go to school. This is a place they rely on to line up resources for them to put them in a position to be able to get to that next level of their career,” Mercurio said. “You need the facilities that accommodate those goals.”
So far, the new facilities have been well-received.
“There has been a lot of excitement from student-athletes,” Mercurio stated. “I hope the students-athletes know we’re always looking for ways to put them in the best position.”