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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
The University of Memphis is taking on $10 million in debt to begin construction on its new indoor practice facility for football.
During a specially called meeting Thursday, the Board of Trustees approved $10 million in debt financing from the Tennessee State School Bond Authority to begin phase one construction of the indoor practice facility. The total project is expected to cost $10.6 million, according to a motion presented to the board by school President David Rudd, and the additional $600,000 will come from gifts for the design of the facility.
The debt will be backed by American Athletic Conference revenue and, potentially, university support that would be repaid by the athletic department's ongoing Time to Shine fundraising campaign.
All current and future donations from the Time to Shine campaign that are not specifically marked for the football facility are being allocated toward the basketball practice facility until it is completed, according to the board document.
Rudd used his Twitter account Thursday to declare that funding for the football team's indoor practice facility had been approved and the project is "moving forward." The athletic department held a groundbreaking ceremony in April.
Rudd previously tweeted that the state building commission is scheduled to review and approve the facility's financial model and design next week.
The indoor practice facility will feature a 120-yard climate-controlled field, and the project also includes renovations to the existing athletic building.
The board also approved a motion Thursday to name the school's new men's basketball practice facility in honor of the family whose record donation helped fund the $21 million project.
The Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center is scheduled to open in October on the university's south campus in time for the 2017-18 season. The 66,000-square foot state-of-the-art structure should provide immediate benefits for the men's basketball program, both logistically and from a recruiting standpoint.
Former Memphis basketball player Bill Laurie and his wife, Nancy, donated an athletic department record $10 million in 2013 to help finance the facility. Nancy Laurie is the daughter of Bud Walton, who is the brother and business partner of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
The building will feature a 7,300-square foot lobby that will double as an interactive museum for the public celebrating Tigers' basketball history. The facility also includes an academic center, practice court, locker room, team lounge areas, training rooms and offices for the entire men's basketball staff, among other amenities.
The men's basketball team currently practices at the Larry Finch Center, which opened in 2000, but the coach's offices are located in the Athletic Office Building about a quarter-mile away.
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