My greatest fear about a new NU hoops arena

I don't deny that Ryan Field needs work, but, as a basketball guy, I've always had a feeling that addressing the football needs is like renovating a 30-year-old house when the one next door is burning down. I understand football is top dog at NU, but the Welsh is laughable. At least, Ryan Field and the football facilities are passable.

And now, in today's Tribune, I saw what i thought was always coming - the first mention of Ryan Field in the same breath as the Welsh. Yes, the grand master facilities plan is lovely and all, but the ability to execute it scares the hell out of me. Frankly, if I were CC and I thought I had the leverage in a year or two, I'd start asking what NU can do for $20-$30 million to the existing structure. TG's blurb today screams about all the problems for the basketball program with the overall facilities plan.

* A lack of existing funding for the football practice facility
* The lack of a commitment for a timetable on the football facility (I love the line about the "football program hoping it can open in the spring of 2015" - a clear attempt to communicate a disconnect. I'm guessing that would require one year to raise the money and one year to build. Good luck on that one, Fitz).
* The unknown about how long it will take to raise the next stash of cash for either Ryan Field or the new Welsh.
* Let's hope the basketball arena is next in line or else we're REALLY talking about a long wait. I wouldn't want to bet on whether basketball will be the next priority.

If NU decides a full renovation - let me emphasize the words "full renovation" maybe even "modernization" - of Ryan Field should be addressed ahead of the basketball arena, I think we're talking 2030 until basketball gets its turn.

Anyhow, here's TG's write-up.

Northwestern AD Jim Phillips is well aware Illinois plans to spend $165 million to renovate the rechristened State Farm Center and DePaul wants a $300 million arena near McCormick Place.

"We're paying attention," he said. "No question we have to address Ryan Field and Welsh-Ryan Arena. But we have to stay true to our priorities."

That means moving forward with the lakefront facility that will benefit NU's entire student body — and be a boon to programs such as football and women's lacrosse.

Phillips said $70 million to $80 million of the $220 million project has been raised. He declined to put a timetable on the groundbreaking, saying it depends on other on-campus projects and the opinions of board of trustees members who will meet in June.

The facility is in the design phase, with the football program hoping it can open in the spring of 2015. The fall of 2015 could be more realistic.

Northwestern, meanwhile, has pumped some money into the basketball program, putting a new floor in the practice area at Welsh-Ryan. But Phillips believes the purple-splashed court will stay.

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