New Athletics Center a Win-Win-Win

For Students, UC Davis Health and Community

Donors and athletics difrector pose next to rendering of  Student-Athlete Performance Center and practice field,
Three of the donors, from left, Bruce and Marie West, and Bruce Edwards, pictured at news conference Nov. 15 with Director of Athletics Kevin Blue. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

For student-athletes (and prospective recruits), it’s a first-class training facility.

For UC Davis Health, it’s the fulfillment of a goal to have an expanded footprint on the Davis campus.

Artist's rendering of scoreboard with new name
Artist’s rendering of scoreboard with new name “A sign, if you will, of things to come.”

For the community, it’s access to world-class sports medicine.

This is just some of what UC Davis’ new $40 million Student-Athlete Performance Center will deliver. University officials announced the project last Thursday (Nov. 15) during a news conference at the Activities and Recreation Center.

“UC Davis Athletics and UC Davis Health are entering into an enhanced and mutually beneficial partnership,” Director of Athletics Kevin Blue said, adding that Aggie Stadium will be renamed UC Davis Health Stadium.

David Lubarsky, vice chancellor of Human Health Sciences and chief executive officer of UC Davis Health, said: “Naming the stadium is really just a small example — a sign, if you will — of things to come about UC Davis Health’s commitment to serve this community.”

Artist's rendering og Student-Athlete Performance Center and practice field
Artist’s rendering shows practice field next to the Student-Athlete Performance Center at the northeast corner of Aggie Stadium.

From tailgate to training

To be built with donor support, the Student-Athlete Performance Center will rise on the north side of UC Davis Health Stadium. The project also includes a natural grass practice field next to the building.

Besides sports medicine, the training center also will house academic support and the Aggie EVO System, which prepares student-athletes for successful “launch” after graduation; and offices for multiple sport programs.

The project comprises a new, 38,000-square-foot building, along with 16,000 square feet of renovated space in the Bob Foster Team Center on Aggie Stadium’s perimeter; as well as the practice field, which will be the first part of the project to be developed after the groundbreaking in early 2019.

The building site at the southwest corner of Hutchison Drive and La Rue Road serves now as Tailgate Field. Officials said several new options for tailgating are being evaluated, and more information will be available for fans in the coming months.

90 percent of funding secured

Three men in half circle, talking.
From left: Blue, Edwards and Jim Carroll, campus architect. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Building construction and renovation will begin upon the completion of fundraising. The end is in sight, as Blue said more than 90 percent of the budget had been secured. He introduced and thanked Bruce Edwards in the audience, who, with his wife, Diane, who was not there, made the lead gift in the fundraising drive — the largest gift in UC Davis Athletics history. (Bruce Edwards ’60 is the namesake of Aggie Stadium’s clubroom.) Blue also recognized other major donors Bruce and Marie West, who were in attendance; and Mike and Renee Child, who were not.

Officials said the Student-Athlete Performance Center will create several ancillary benefits for the university. For example, the center’s multiuse auditorium will be used for undergraduate instruction; and the Cowell office building, now occupied by Intercollegiate Athletics staff and coaches, will become available for other university functions, providing much needed office space in the central campus.

In addition, the weight room within the performance center will be made available to UC Davis sport club teams for use outside of Intercollegiate Athletics training hours.

‘Part of our family’

Blue said the stadium’s name change will take effect July 1, 2019, and run for 20 years. “The title sponsorship,” he said, “is just the tent pole in a broad partnership that’s representative of an effort by UC Davis Health to further expand its presence and investment in the care provided to the students, faculty and staff on the Davis campus and the people of the Davis community.”

David Lubarsky at podium, during news conference
 Vice Chancellor Lubarsky addresss the news conference. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Lubarsky elaborated on UC Davis Health’s renewed commitment to the Davis community. “Every single person on this campus, and, really, every single person in Davis, is part of our family — this is where we live,” he said. “And I think it’s really critically important that the health system do its best to serve all the people who want to access the best physicians around.”

The new sports performance center, Lubarsky said, “will become a hub for treatment for not only student-athletes, immediately available and right there, but also for others in the community who will want to access the best sports medicine that exists in the entire county.”

Lubarsky, who joined UC Davis in July, concluded his remarks with a reference to the Aggie football team’s best-ever season in Division I. “My support (of the expanded partnership between UC Davis Health and UC Davis Athletics) was for the campus,” he said. “I had no idea that I was going to be investing in truly world-class football. ... I’m just really proud to be part of that.”

UC Davis Sports Medicine

“This sports performance complex is going to be amazing,” Lubarsky said, with world-class care from UC Davis Health’s burgeoning Sports Medicine program of more than a dozen physicians — “and we hope to add to that,” he said.

The program has been expanding in staff and curriculum over the last year.

Jeremiah Ray came on board as head team physician for all 25 intercollegiate athletic teams, joining a team that also includes Cassandra Lee (head orthopedic surgeon), Richard Marder (director of Sports Medicine services) and Jeffrey Tanji (co-director of Sports Medicine), among 10 other sports medicine physicians.

Last December, UC Davis Health medical residents began participating in first electives for college sports medicine. The program has now evolved into a full-time fellowship, training physicians to become the next generation of cutting-edge sports medicine doctors.

Ultimately, Ray’s goal is to have both undergraduate and graduate programs involved in sports medicine, conducting research, executing high-quality studies and publishing data that informs athletics programs at other universities.

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