The University of Minnesota Board of Regents unanimously approved a proposal for a $166 million Athletes Village on Friday, paving the way for construction to begin on the project that has been a top priority for the athletics department.
The project will replace outdated athletic practice and training facilities, which university officials claim was undermining recruiting efforts.
Dean Johnson, board chairman, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the new facilities would give Minnesota athletics a competitive boost.
“This gives them the opportunity to compete in the Big Ten … at the national level,” Johnson said.
The Athletes Village will feature new indoor facilities for the football and basketball programs, but will also include academic and dining centers for all of the school’s athletes.
The athletic department and private donors will fund the complex. So far, the university has raised about $76.5 million, less than half the total amount needed. The remaining costs will be financed through long-term debt, which will be covered by the athletic department.
The vote comes after a months-long delay, partially due to gender equity concerns related to female athletes. A track that nearly half of the university’s female athletes currently use will be demolished to make way for the new Athletes Village. In response to a Title IX complaint, the university announced in September that it would build a new track on the main campus.
The project will reportedly break ground soon, and the Athletes Village is expected to open in January 2018.