If you noticed some weirdo hanging around UC’s campus taking pictures of the Sheakley Athletics Center, it was probably me. I drove down to Cincinnati from Chicago this past weekend for a little R&R but happened to peruse Clifton on Friday afternoon. My intentions were to see how construction on the practice facility was advancing and more specifically Phase II of the project. I haven’t heard a peep of news since the 100-yd and 50-yd fields were completed and have been curious about the progress for a while now. So I decided to check it out for myself. Here’s what I saw:
First of all, this was the first time I was able to see the Sheakley Athletics Center with my own eyes. Boy is it an architectural beauty that fits like a glove with the rest of the University of Cincinnati campus. The place just screams ‘UC’ with C-Paws etched into the stonework along Jefferson Avenue and the Bearcat statue just feet away. It’s no wonder Brian Kelly was pushing for this so much during his time here. It’s clear Phase I was a rousing success although I was a little disappointed I arrived too late to see the bubble in person.
But like I mentioned the purpose of my visit was to see the progress of Phase II which is set to include the following additions:
- Press Box
- Concession Stands
- Bleachers comfortably seating 900 people
- Locker Rooms
- Training Rooms
By the looks of it the centerpiece of the second phase, the press box, is over 50% of the way completed. I’m especially excited about the press box because it allows the football coaches an aerial view of the practice to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team. Workers just need to put the finishing touches on the exterior and furnish the interior to call that portion done. The restrooms and concessions stands are likely built into the press box and will probably be completed around the same time as the entire structure. It looks like the the outside areas like the bleachers are finished even though I didn’t see a scoreboard and I can’t speak to part of the project constructed indoors like the locker rooms and training rooms. You can see some renderings of the project here to compare for yourself.
Overall, Phase II is coming along nicely. The only disappointment I have is that construction is behind schedule. This part of the Sheakley Athletics Center was planned to be completed on March 1st but like most construction projects in Cincinnati it is taking way longer than expected. I’m not an engineer (most of you who attend/attended UC probably know more about that than I) but I don’t see any way the facility isn’t 100% finished by Fall camp in about 3 months. Of course the Bearcats head to Camp Higher Ground in August but they can take in a few practices here before the season begins. UC football will primarily run practices here during the season as well as Nippert Stadium although I expect Jones and crew to use the Sheakley Athletics Complex more because of the press box. Like I said, it allows coaches to have an aerial (read: better) view of practice.
The Sheakley Athletics Center will also be used by UC’s women’s lacrosse team as their homefield instead of Nippert Stadium. It’s more quaint than the 35,000-seat football stadium and will allow for a better experience for both players and fans. Also I’d be curious to see if the University of Cincinnati partners with some local high schools to host football practices here. With a fully functioning press box, bleachers, and fan amenities it’s a better venue than most high school teams have to offer. UC could make some money off of this and it would be a nice recruiting tool for Coach Jones who is still working to lock down the best talent in the Cincinnati area.