LARAMIE — The Wyoming athletic department couldn’t have asked for a much better setting to break ground on its $44 million High Altitude Performance Center.
In addition to Saturday being an unseasonably warm late-October day, the opening ceremony was held before a game in which the Cowboys football team was playing for first place in its division.
“For it to be this nice this late in the year and a situation where we’re 5-2 and tied for first place in our division, it’s just ideal,” athletic director Tom Burman said.
Burman, Gov. Matt Mead, UW president Laurie Nichols and head football coach Craig Bohl were among those to speak at the groundbreaking.
“Today when we say, ‘Go Pokes,’ we know (where) the Pokes are going,” Mead said.
The facility, dubbed the Mick and Susie McMurry High Altitude Performance Center, will add 71,000 square feet of new space to the current Curtis and Marian Rochelle Athletics Center.
Located behind the north end zone of War Memorial Stadium, the two-floor facility will include a football locker room, weight room, strength and conditioning center, sports medicine area, academic center, offices, nutrition center and training table, recruiting lounge and meeting room.
The project was funded by $24 million in private donations from 55 donors and a $20 million state match.
Mead recalled how Bohl, in his early days at Wyoming, spoke to him about the contributions that were necessary for the athletic department to go to the next level.
“He and Tom Burman came into my office, and they wanted to talk about their vision,” Mead said. “Coach Bohl talked passionately about what we needed. And for those of you who have spent any time with Coach Bohl, I don’t know that he talks any other way. He is so passionate about Wyoming and UW Football.”
Bohl choked up when referring to Burman’s decision to hire him from North Dakota State in the Football Championship Subdivision.
“Governor Mead looked deep in my eyes and said, ‘Hey, coach, when the Cowboys win, the people in our state feel good. What do we need, Coach?’ And Tom Burman (pushed) this agenda through when a lot of people said you can’t do certain things.”
Construction will begin as soon as Wyoming’s football season ends, Burman said, and construction of the new building will take 12 months. Renovations to the original Rochelle Athletic Center will take around four to six months.
Burman also anticipates Wyoming will continue to raise about $1 million for additions to the training table and technology within the facility.