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Ferris State Approves Plans For Major Upgrade To Bulldog Athletic Facilities

Big Rapids, Mich. - Current and future Ferris State University student-athletes will soon be able to train and compete with the best as the university's Board of Trustees have officially approved a $15.3 million upgrade to the Bulldogs' athletic facilities.

A project intended to fortify Ferris' student-athletes and advance its programs into the future, the Center for Athletics Performance has secured institutional funding and started formative planning with architects and a general contracting firm for a major upgrade.

The university's Board of Trustees recently approved the renovation and construction project, which will include a new and expanded strength and conditioning space, a new multipurpose arena and competition space for the volleyball program and practice area for other sports, additional and renovated locker room facilities along with team meeting spaces. Further, the project features a new connector and entrance to athletic facilities and renovations to offices and the sports medicine area. 

The upgrades will offer championship-caliber training and conditioning facilities to the nearly 400 Bulldog student-athletes and 17 varsity programs. 

"We are excited for what this means for our current and future student-athletes, who will now be able to prepare themselves to compete at the highest level in modernized and much improved facilities," said FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger said.

The university community identified the need for the renovation and expansion of the Ewigleben Sports Complex as part of its Big Rapids campus master plan several years ago. The Board of Trustees officially approved a revised budget and scope for the Center for Athletics Performance in late January with construction set to begin this fall once plans and contracts are finalized. The new multipurpose area is slated to be completed in June 2022 with the Center for Athletics Performance to be finished in July 2022 and the entire three-phase project and renovation work wrapped up by December 2022.

"The Center for Athletics Performance is an important resource to continue Ferris' national stature in NCAA Division II athletics," Vice President for Administration and Finance Jim Bachmeier said. "The combination of extraordinarily low interest rates and our ability to pay off an existing piece of debt provided the opportunity to borrow funds for this project, without increasing annual debt service."

The Athletic Department and Ferris' University Advancement and Marketing division will continue to collaborate on the project as it moves forward with the Bulldog Athletic Association supporting the outreach to potential donors for naming opportunities.

Weisenburger said this undertaking comes about at a "great time for Bulldog athletics."

"We could not be more excited about moving forward with this extremely important project," Weisenburger said.  "Every team and program will utilize the Center for Athletics Performance in so many ways, allowing for greater energy towards life balance, student-athlete growth and physical development, team building, competition preparation, coaching continuity, championship success and of course, recruiting. The CAP is the missing piece for Ferris State Athletics and this multi-faceted facility will provide amenities, space and enhanced flexibility that will greatly benefit our student-athletes and programs.

"We are also extremely appreciative of the vision and energy of Ferris State alum and developer Jeff Schmitz, who greatly contributed to this project," he added.

Physical Plant Senior Project Manager Joseph Haupt said an Ann Arbor-based architecture, design and planning firm, The Collaborative, is currently contributing to the CAP project.

"The Collaborative was our clear choice, offering an extensive portfolio and relevant experience designing athletic facilities, of similar size and complexity, for Division I, II and III higher education institutions," Haupt said. "He said design team has begun the program validation portion of the project, where they identify and prioritize the scope of facility improvements that the approved budget will allow."

Haupt said Granger Construction will oversee the subcontracting firms, who will take up approximately 7,200 square feet of renovation work and the development of nearly 16,000 square feet of new construction to create the Center for Athletics Performance. This work includes a new home for the volleyball program, Bulldog Arena, in addition to a new entry and connector space.

The Center for Athletics Performance will provide student-athletes with increased space for strength and conditioning, cardio work, training and nutrition.

"This upgrade and facility project will be a wonderful addition for all of our student-athletes," said head football coach Tony Annese. "We're so thankful to the university for making this project a reality, and it is one that will transform the way our athletes train and develop on an everyday basis."

The Ewigleben Sports Complex was originally constructed in 1974 with the current volleyball arena, which will be transformed into the new Center for Athletics Performance, added on in 1982. Ferris State built Jim Wink Arena off the existing structure in 1999 and renovations to the ice arena were last made in 2007. The new Bulldog Arena addition will sit to the east side of the main concourse near both the existing Ewigleben Ice Arena and Wink Arena.

"Our building and our volleyball arena in particular have so much history and tradition and while we will always remember so many wonderful moments within it, this will be exciting to see the facility upgraded in so many ways," said volleyball head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm. "I'm thrilled for our student-athletes who are so deserving of this expansion and the opportunities it will create for them to maximize their success."

For additional information regarding the Center for Athletics Performance, please visit this link: