After several months of delays, UTSA has finally broken ground on their moon-shot athletics facilities. With current facilities unfit even for a Division II program, UTSA athletes, coaches, and supporters have been waiting many years for the university’s athletics facilities to catch up to those of its on-field competition.
RACE (Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence) will encompass nearly 95,000 square feet of campus, with an additional 181,000 square feet in field space. Phase one of the project will complete the RACE itself as well as two practice fields for football, with a covered canopy and enhancements to UTSA’s Park West athletics campus slated for future construction.
The RACE will be jam-packed with much-needed space for UTSA’s athletes, including an academic center, a sports medicine center containing a hydrotherapy room, 14,000 square feet of strength and conditioning equipment, a new football locker room, meeting rooms, a student-athlete lounge, a Hall of Champions, and office space for coaches and administrators.
“The Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence will be the hub of UTSA Athletics and provide all of our student-athletes, coaches and staff with the resources to achieve our mission of developing champions in the classroom, in competition and in life,” said UTSA Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Lisa Campos. “Just as UTSA intends to be an exemplar in academics and research, RACE will have a long-lasting impact on our stature as a Division I competitor.”
While it’s certainly terrific news for UTSA that the RACE is now under construction, there were concessions in the administration's plans that allowed construction to begin without additional delays. Original plans for the facilities included a cover over one of the football practice fields. The $3 million cost has been pushed back to be constructed in a later phase of construction.
Additionally, UTSA was not able to fully fund the facility through philanthropic contributions as originally planned.
UTSA athletics will take on roughly $25 million in debt, with $1 million payments to be made annually from the athletics department’s budget, roughly 3% of the department’s current operating budget.
While taking on debt is never ideal, UTSA simply couldn’t wait any longer to get their facilities up to par. This funding approach will have minimal impact to UTSA’s ability to fund their athletics program, and early construction should jump start additional fundraising as donors will have physical progress to take in.
These new facilities should provide a huge recruiting boost for all of UTSA’s athletics programs. As UTSA football Head Coach Jeff Traylor recently pointed out in an interview, competing programs often negatively recruit against UTSA by highlighting their decrepit or non-existent facilities.
Traylor admitted that his staff doesn’t show recruits UTSA’s existing facilities during campus tours. That may not change for another year, but at least now Traylor can show recruits cranes and dump trucks moving around campus during UTSA’s junior day recruiting event this month.
Barring any unforeseen delays in construction, RACE and the two practice fields will be completed in the summer of 2021. Following that, UTSA will aim to complete the cover over the synthetic field and further build out their Park West facility. The total cost for the second phase of construction is anticipated to be around $11 million.