QA with Rick George Part I: Facilities

BOULDER, Colo. - After receiving the green light from the CU Board of Regents and the Boulder Campus Planning Committee to proceed with a comprehensive facilities re-design, Colorado athletic director Rick George spoke in-depth about their plans with BuffStampede:
Now that your facilities plan has been approved by the CU Board of Regents and the Boulder Campus Planning Commission, aside from funding, do you have any more hoops to jump through in the coming weeks or months? (AM)
Rick George: "The biggest thing that we'll have to do is we'll have to quickly get out a 'RFP' (request for proposal) to get an architect to start working on the drawings and everything. Then we have to go to the state legislature. There are a number of procedural steps that you have to take. It will go back in front of the design committee and some things like that.
"And then we have to raise money, and that is what we're going to do. I'd like to have a shovel in the ground this spring and start moving and have it done."
Now that your plan has approval from the CU Board of Regents, how much easier does it make your job in securing additional private funding? (jdub25)
"It does make it a lot easier because whenever you do the private phase, it is really just a lot of vision and talking about projects and plans. We basically had no drawings to go from other than to say, 'here is what we're going to do. Here is the space that is allocated. We need your support.' I am very grateful for all of our donors and alumni that have stepped up prior to the vote because that helped us having people on board and committed to this project.
"Now that it is public, it is actually moving in a real positive direction. We went live on site with our presentation on Wednesday and we have had tremendous response from some people that had never contributed before. So that is a positive and we still have a lot of work to do and we have to open the corporate phase where we are talking to corporate partners about getting engaged in the project because we have some areas we think it can be beneficial to their business and to ours. And so there is a lot to do in the next three months to get this all fundraised."
Before you were hired here, there was a facilities plan that was going to have the indoor practice facility down north of Boulder creek where family housing is currently. Did you feel it was necessary to have the indoor practice facility up closer to the Dal Ward Center and Folsom Field? (AM)
"Well, it is not up here yet. That is maybe the one thing that has come out that is not totally accurate. We are looking at that site and we're also looking at down below. We are in conversation with the student recreation center and their board as it relates to Franklin Field but there has been no agreement reached on that. So both places are still be contemplated."
Are there any plans in place for smaller donors, like a "buy a brick" campaign, or a recurring donation option to allow a small donor to contribute monthly? (NCBuff/RBboulder)
"We are actually in the process of planning a lot of things and that is something that we'll probably roll out right after the first of the year, some ways for people to get involved. The brick program works and there are also some ideas with the lockers because we are going to put lockers for all of our sports in here (Dal Ward Center). So all of our sports, people that have an affinity for women's soccer or men's cross country or women's cross country or track, we'll provide lockers for those athletes in this building, too. So there are going to be a lot of opportunities. It will be very broad based.
"I know [there are people that want us to] have some type of measuring stick that says here is where we are at [with fundraising], that is something that we are contemplating as well and hopefully we'll roll that out by the middle of January. We didn't want to be too presumptuous that we would get this approved and so a lot of things have really started happening since we had that approval."
Will the new practice facility to be used during game days as a tailgating area? (Oldturtle87)
"We get a lot of questions about that from our donors as we are out there because a lot of people that are going to give [money] are going to park on there so they want to be concerned about that. As we have looked at this, and until we get the plans we won't know for sure, but there is only going to be one-entry point. All this is going away back here as you know it today (east of the Dal Ward Center): the recycling, the facilities management buildings. All those are going away and you won't have the road that goes up and there will be one entry point here. And so when we re-grade that, we are going to add parking because we are going to need parking for this high performance center as well. There is going to be a significant amount of space. Once we get the architect we will know better.
"And on game day we want the indoor practice facility open to the public and people can come in there and tailgate and you have restaurants in there, you'll have fine dining, you have a ton of space. And you can generate a lot of revenue and you can give people a space indoors through security that they can come in early. I have been to other facilities that do this on game day, they do about two-thirds of it for the tailgating function and then the other third is open for young kids to come in there and throw the football around and have bouncy games and stuff like that. So parents can come inside security with their kids and go in there and play. So we think it is going to be a great benefit for us on game day."
Are there any plans for renovating the Balch Fieldhouse, the press box and west side seating? (RunRalphieRun)
"It is not part of this initial [project]. The focus with this initial [project] was, as I said to our regents was getting what we need. I said, "This is not a want. This is a need. This is something that we have to have right now for our student-athletes.' When we have student-athletes changing in a handicap bathroom stall, both men's and women's, because there is no place to change for any of our sports other than football in this facility, that is not acceptable. And so there were issues that we needed to address like that. And space issues with the small weight room. Right now we have to start working out at six in the morning and end at nine o'clock at night to get all our sports teams in on a daily basis. That is not acceptable. When we only have 5,000-square feet of academic space, we need to expand that. So as we looked at this, it was a really broad based plan that we really wanted to satisfy those needs. When you look at our vision and our mission when it comes out, the No. 1 priority for us is going to be our student-athletes. We have to solve some of our needs for our student-athletes. That is what we focused on first.
"We know how important the Flatirons Club and the west side is going to be for us because we have had some of our most loyal, most long-standing alumni and fans that love the Flatirons Club and we need to upgrade that. But I think the beauty of what we just came up with is one, we are going to be successful and we are going to get this built. And if we get this built by the fall of 2015, which is what we want to do, and if it is successful like we believe it will be, then we can address Balch Fieldhouse and the Flatirons Club and the press box and everything that has to do with the west side. At some point we have to address the seats in the stadium, too. There are a lot of things on the horizon.
"Again, our priority first was to ensure that our student-athletes had the kind of experience that they need to have and that is what we addressed in this build. By putting a 300-meter track in the indoor practice facility, it will be great training for all our student-athletes and it will be a great place for football to be able to go and we can start hosting national track meets in a facility.
"And then the other thing that it does is now it opens up Balch Fieldhouse where we don't need that track, so what are we going to do long-term to that? And to Carlson Gym and the Flatirons Club? And when I talk long-term, I am talking 2016-and-beyond. So that is not really long-term but to me it is. But we have to address that whole thing. How are we going to make the Flatirons and the west side press box different and better than it is today? I think there is a lot of value in us doing that because in a lot of cases, they are the best seats we have."
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