The future arrived for the University of Cincinnati athletics program in May with the completion of the Richard E. Lindner Varsity Village.
The extensive renovation and upgrade of all of UC's athletics facilities, and the construction of some new venues, positions the Bearcats sports programs to compete among the nation's best.
The term "village" aptly applies because the close proximal location and interconnection of the facilities provides ease of use and access to services for all of the sports teams and their student-athletes, similar to that of a small town.
There was nothing small about the vision for Varsity Village, a $105 million project, over half of which is privately financed.
The centerpiece of the project is the construction of the new Richard E. Lindner Center, to serve as the home for all of the sports programs as well as the centralized support services.
Located between Nippert Stadium and Fifth Third Arena, the Lindner Center is a futuristic eight-story structure which houses offices, locker rooms, and reception and meeting space for each of the sports teams. The administrative services and support areas are also housed in the building.
The emphasis of the Lindner Center programming is on the student-athlete. One entire floor of the building is devoted to the Nancy Hamant Academics Center, which contains study facilities for UC's 530 student-athletes, including over 80 computer stations.
A new athletics training center, equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment equipment, including three hydrotherapy pools, is included in the Lindner Center. The University Health Services for students has been relocated to the Lindner Center and provides expanded medical coverage conveniently located for UC student-athletes. An MRI diagnostic center is also part of the building.
Space for strength and conditioning training in the adjacent Fifth Third Arena has been doubled to 18,000 square feet and has been furnished with the latest in weight training equipment. A new 12,000-square foot practice gymnasium will ease the scheduling of workouts.
While the Lindner Center provides for the present and future of UC athletics, it also recognizes and celebrates the UC's proud past. The ground level of the five-story atrium features the George and Helen Smith Museum detailing the history of both the athletics program and the university. Sports histories are portrayed in graphic murals and on video screens. Terminals in the Jack Twyman Traditions Lounge enable former student-athletes and their families to look up photos and records of their participation. A five-story trophy case houses the Bearcats' championship memorabilia.
The unique building was designed by signature architect Bernard Tschumi. UC graduate Eva Maddox (DAAP 1966) orchestrated the design of the museum.
Varsity Village created three new sports venues and made significant upgrades and enhancements to two others.
A new baseball stadium, named for the late Cincinnati Reds owner and area philanthropist Marge Schott, opened late in the 2004 season. UC's tennis program benefits from a new on-campus tennis center. The swimming and diving teams have a new training and competition home, the Keating Aquatics Center, in the nearby new student recreation center.
UC's track and soccer complex was totally renovated, and permanent seating for 1,400 was added, along with a press box, and reopened as the Ben and Dee Gettler Stadium.
Nippert Stadium, which has been home to UC football, and the activities of just about every other outdoor sport since 1902, has undergone significant improvements in seating and other accoutrements for the spectators, such as expanded concourse and concessions areas and a new video board. Teams benefit from field-level game-day locker rooms and the grass-like FieldTurf artificial playing surface.
Even UC's Marching Band benefited with the creation of the Rockwern Band Center.
Landscaping has created a major walkway, O'Varsity Way, that leads visitors through the heart of Varsity Village. The Raymond D. Sheakley Lawn and Victory Plaza provide gathering and activities space for UC fans attending events.