VCU in early talks to build new basketball practice facility

The Franklin Street gym has been host to sporting events for more than 30 years.
The Franklin Street gym has been host to sporting events for more than 30 years.

Jim Swing
Sports Editor
Commonwealth Times’ Sports Twitter

Adding renovations to the Franklin Street gym has been an ongoing process nearly every year, but this year, the VCU athletics department has its eye on a newer prize.

When the department sat down to evaluate different areas of the program following the men’s basketball team’s fruitful run to the Final Four, upgrading to a new practice facility was at the top of the list.

“We talked about upgrading Franklin Street gym in some way,” VCU athletic director Norwood Teague said. “We realized that putting a lot of money into that wouldn’t be wise when going ahead and building a new one would be more cost efficient in the long run.”

The new building would be privately funded and cost around $10 million according to Teague.

The department first discussed putting additional renovations on the Franklin Street gym before deciding to add a new facility altogether.

The new building would be a swanky upgrade from a gym commonly known as being musty, old and tattered.

“When a facility is very old, you can put a lot of money into it and not make a big dip in the actual overall upgrade,” Teague said. “When you look at spending a little bit more on a new facility, it’s just so dramatic as far as what you get in return compared to putting in money into an older facility.”

The Franklin Street gym was built in 1951 and has housed sporting events for more than 30 years.

The building’s latest renovations came in the summer of 2006, just prior to the hiring of former men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant, and cost approximately $250,000.

The team played its games at the Franklin Street gym from 1968 to 1980 and sparingly through the 1980s, according to VCU’s sports information office.

The proposed location of the new facility is on the northwest side of the Siegel Center near the Bowe Street parking deck and is expected to house practices for VCU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Teague said the project is in the preliminary stages of planning the design and fundraising. He said it should take a year of fundraising before the department is able to break ground on the new site.

“It all depends on how quick and how successful you are on raising the money,” Teague said.

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