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BYU breaks ground on Marriott Center Annex practice facility

(Courtesy rendering: BYU Athletics)


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PROVO — All he wanted was an extra basketball court so his players didn't have to find an open room in the Richards Building or a hoop in a Provo park during BYU's annual "Christmas Around the World" production at the Marriott Center.

But what Cougar head coach Dave Rose got was much more.

BYU officially broke ground on the Marriott Center Annex on Monday morning, paving the way to begin construction on a two-story, 38,000-square foot, state-of-the-art basketball practice facility that is slated to be completed by early October 2016.

"Former players who will not see the day-to-day benefits put in the work to make this happen," Rose told a crowd of about 100 people assembled for the groundbreaking. "I'm humbled, because I know the expectations of what we are building here."

The facility was planned, approved and built as an annex to the Cougars' home court for men's and women's basketball, and Marriott Center Annex will be its permanent name, BYU associate athletic director Brian Santiago said.

In addition to the court — which will contain an exact replica of the court in the Marriott Center — and two practice hoops on either end of the facility for individual workouts, Rose said the other areas of the building will bring the Cougars' newest facility on par with the other top college basketball programs in the country.

"The offices are important. We've outgrown our office space, so now we'll have space to go and operate day-to-day," Rose added. "Along with the gym, the state-of-the-art training room and strength and conditioning facility will really benefit our players."

BYU head coach Dave Rose and school president Kevin J. Worthen, center, break ground with several donors and facility representatives during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Marriott Center Annex in Provo, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (Photo: Sean Walker, KSL.com)
BYU head coach Dave Rose and school president Kevin J. Worthen, center, break ground with several donors and facility representatives during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Marriott Center Annex in Provo, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (Photo: Sean Walker, KSL.com)

BYU coach Jeff Judkins and the women's basketball team weren't available at the groundbreaking — the squad is traveling from Los Angeles to Hawaii for the Tom Weston Invitational at BYU-Hawaii this week. But he expressed gratitude in a statement through the athletics department.

"I'm grateful for the BYU administration and the many donors who have worked together to make this practice facility a reality," Judkins said. "It provides world-class resources to further develop our student-athletes and better prepare them to achieve their goals — both athletically and academically."

For Santiago, the groundbreaking of the project represents the final step of a long-held dream to bring a top-notch facility to BYU's athletics department.

Cougar staffers and administrators collaborated with 15-20 schools along the West Coast to bring in the architectural and facilities innovation of the final project.

But when it finally came down to setting the plans in place, they wanted the extra BYU touch, which is why they awarded the job to Ogden-based construction company Wadman Corporation, the group in charge of the recent Monte L. Bean Museum renovations and the Payson LDS Temple.

"We took inspiration from all of them," Santiago said of the other schools. "But the look and feel of it has the BYU touch and feel — we weren't trying to match anyone's look or feel. This is a BYU facility that ties into what we do. What we did see in a lot of these facilities were some unique state-of-the-art needs of today's student-athlete that we incorporated in."

The new building will enhance BYU's efforts on the recruiting trail, Rose said. Every recruit within the past four years has asked when a building similar to the Marriott Center Annex would finally arrive on campus.

Now the 10-year head coach has an answer for them.

"I think the fact that these players know they will have a place dedicated for their improvement will be really important in the process of recruiting new players," Rose said. "And not just for the next couple of years, but for a long time. This is something that has become really important to the progression of individual players, and I'm glad we've got one here on campus."

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said the practice facility was spurred on in part by the development of former standout guard Tyler Haws, who graduated from BYU in the spring as the school's all-time scoring leader.

Haws was "a kid who doesn't understand office hours," said Holmoe, who referred to the former Lone Peak standout's penchant for practicing at every hour of the day.

"You can't contain him in a normal practice," Holmoe said. "He's going to practice morning, noon and night — wherever he can. Not just so we can win, but so he can be the best he can be.

"Without him, I don't think this would've happened."

Santiago said the new facility enhances BYU's potential bid to bring an NCAA regional to Provo for the first time since 1982. Among the NCAA men's basketball committee's holdups with BYU was the lack of media accommodations in the Marriott Center itself. The annex will help bolster capacity for both traveling teams and media.

The main issue that remains, however, is hotel space. The NCAA prefers at least eight to 10 hotels to house each of the teams in the regional, media and NCAA officials, and the Provo-Orem area hasn't had adequate space for such an event.

Santiago said BYU has submitted several bids to host a regional site in Salt Lake City in the past few years. But the annex's completion would help them as they try to bring the NCAA Tournament back to Provo.

"As a boy growing up in this area, I remember coming and watching Patrick Ewing and Georgetown, and some of the greatest teams of all time playing in the Marriott Center," Santiago said. "It's a dream of mine, and this certainly only enhances that possibility."

Haws now plies his trade with Obradoiro in Spain's Liga Endesa. But the effects of him and similar former players — many of whom contributed financially to the facility — will be felt in the basketball program's legacy.

"To me, the commitment has been 100 percent since the day I got here," Rose said. "The administration, both in the university and athletics, has been totally committed to athletics and this program. But outwardly, it shows a great commitment to ourselves and others."

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Sean Walker

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