Utah broke ground on the new Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Center
May 6, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Athletics broke ground on the Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Center, a state-of-the-art facility that will house both the men's and women's teams, at a ceremony on May 5th.
The new facility will feature a Utah Performance Center, housing state-of-the-art sports medicine and strength and conditioning facilities. It will also contain film rooms, locker rooms, two gymnasiums, lounge areas, a nutrition center, a media center and office space for coaching staffs.
The 80,000-square-foot center will be located just northwest of the 15,000-seat arena bearing the Huntsman name. As part of the project, renovations to that building are underway. Lighting, sound and draping for other sports, as well as two grand entrances for a hall of fame and legacy hall, are among the arena priorities.
Joining Jon and Karen Huntsman as featured guests at the groundbreaking ceremony were University of Utah President David Pershing, athletic director Chris Hill, men's basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak, women's basketball coach Anthony Levrets, Runnin' Utes forward Jordan Loveridge, and senior Taryn Wicijowski of the women's squad. Kem Gardner, the co-fundraising chairman of the project, was the master of ceremonies, and Utah supporter Spence Eccles was also on stage. A number of former Utah players, including Josh Grant, Alex Jensen, Jason Washburn, Craig Rydalch and Mark Rydalch, were also on hand.
"I would visualize the University of Utah basketball program attracting the best players in America simply because of our coaching, our remarkable physical facilities and the stature of the university," Huntsman said. "Everything that's possible in the basketball world, we'll have at the University of Utah."
Huntsman has been a large supporter of the university throughout the years, donating to the athletics department and healthcare programs, in addition to providing scholarships to thousands of students at the university and around the country.
Huntsman was recently awarded the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership, which "highlights the power of philanthropy to promote positive change and to inspire others." He has donated more than $1.2 billion in his lifetime to various efforts.
"Jon's been a big part of the university for a lot of years and I feel fortunate to have a really good relationship with him," men's basketball coach Larry Krystkowiaksaid. "He's done so much, not just for basketball or the University of Utah. He's humble, gracious and generous."
Even though construction hadn't begun until May 5th, Krystkowiak feels the facility has already started to pay dividends.
"When we talk about this facility, the new training and weight centers and all those areas, there's really nothing that we don't have," Krystkowiak stated. "Now all of a sudden, we've got a centerpiece here that we can sell during the recruiting process. A young man, in our case, comes to the program and spends an awful lot of time in places other than the classroom and their dorm. It's usually around the facility, and so the nicer that is the better chance we're going to have drawing future recruits."
The basketball center is the realization of years of dreaming, and a nationwide attempt to scout the best facilities in collegiate athletics.
"We're not interested in building a facility that allows us to keep up with the rest of the Pac-12," Krystkowiak added. "We believe this will set the bar. We think when this facility is completed, it will be the finest basketball facility in the United States."
Women's basketball coach Anthony Levretsechoed that sentiment as he anticipates a similar boon in recruiting for his program.
"We go into people's homes now, and we're going to show them this new beautiful facility where their kids can come get a great education, be around unbelievable people, and then call this place their home for many, many years," Levrets stated. "This athletic department has been successful without these buildings, and I think it has everything to do with the people," "Now you add world-class facilities to those people, and we could have something pretty special here."
The project is slated to wrap up in July of 2015.