Construction of UConn Basketball Development Center to begin soon

UConn is moving closer to beginning construction of the new Basketball Development Center.

The UConn Foundation announced Tuesday that it has raised $24 million in donations and pledges, or 75 percent of the $32 million needed for the project.

The next step is for UConn to obtain financing so it can start construction. The plan is to break ground in the spring, according to an Associated Press report. The building is expected to take about two years to complete.

The UConn Basketball Development Center will be built on the site of the old Memorial Stadium, which is located adjacent to Gampel Pavilion.

Alumnus Mark Shenkman and wife, Rosalind, provided the latest major gift, committing $2 million. He serves as the chairman of the UConn Foundation Board of Directors.

"The success of our men's and women's basketball student-athletes, in both the classroom and on the court, will be greatly enhanced by the UConn Basketball Development Center," said UConn director of athletics Warde Manuel in a released statement.

"I want to thank Mark and Rosalind Shenkman and all of our benefactors whose generosity are allowing us to begin construction of this project. We will continue to fund raise to obtain the entire cost of the project."

Shenkman's name should be familiar to UConn fans. The athletic training and student recreational facility was named after him after he gave a $2.5 million gift.

"Rosalind and I feel very blessed to be able to make this gift to the University of Connecticut," Mark Shenkman said. "This gift represents an investment in the future of UConn basketball.

"After recently visiting the practice facilities at other institutions, I realized the importance that a practice facility can have in conveying the strength of a program. The completion of this basketball practice facility will certainly perpetuate UConn's preeminent position as one of America's college basketball capitals."

And here's coach Kevin Ollie's reaction to the news about the practice facility:

"I couldn't be more excited that the practice facility we have been waiting for will become a reality. I want to thank all the donors who helped make this possible.

"I know there is still a lot to do as far as fundraising and we intend to help by putting as hard-working a team as possible on the court.

"The new building will enhance our efforts to remain competitive at the highest level when it comes to recruiting, practice, and game preparation."

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