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Oakland University’s new indoor practice facility could have a big impact on the athletic program

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published February 11, 2015

 Oakland University Director of Athletics Jeff Konya said the domed indoor practice facility located on the school’s campus is the “biggest indoor” practice facility in Michigan.

Oakland University Director of Athletics Jeff Konya said the domed indoor practice facility located on the school’s campus is the “biggest indoor” practice facility in Michigan.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROCHESTER HILLS — Located on the campus of Oakland University is what Director of Athletics Jeff Konya said is the “biggest indoor” practice facility in the state of Michigan, as the “state-of-the-art” domed facility was dedicated Jan. 30.

Konya said the facility is 108,000 square feet, and although some programs may get more direct use out of it than others, Konya indicated “any program” can use it for speed and agility, as well as cardiovascular training.

Konya discussed what he considers to be the prime benefits of the facility.

“I think it gives us a year-round facility for a lot of our team sports,” he said. “Gives us some advantages from a scheduling standpoint — we could have two or three teams going at one time and still maintain some academic sense. I think it’s a good recruiting advantage. I think it’s a competitive advantage, in terms of our training. I think it’s a beautiful structure, so it enhances the beauty of the campus. It’s the biggest of its kind in the state of Michigan. That’s what we’re about as a university; that’s what we’re about as an athletic department — brand awareness and to be associated with the biggest and best things.”

“Our student-athletes are excited about being able to use that facility,” said Oakland Senior Assistant AD for Public Relations Scott MacDonald. “I believe it gives us an advantage.”

The dome, which Konya said cost close to $6 million, is a “public-private partnership” between Oakland and the Total Sports Complex until it reverts “back to the campus” in what Konya thought would be 20 years. So while the college athletes are enjoying their new practice space, community and youth sports programs can contact Total Sports Complex about reserving some time for their teams.

Along with a new outdoor track on campus, Oakland’s track and field squad can also benefit from the indoor facility.

“Adding the outdoor facility, and now this indoor training facility, I think it’ll allow us to develop some more depth in our program,” said Oakland men’s and women’s cross country and track head coach Paul Rice. “Maybe fill some of those events where we really haven’t had a whole lot of athletes in them — some of the field event athletes we haven’t had in the past. We haven’t had the facilities to train them. Now we have that, so we can expand. This year already, we added pole vaulters to the program, which we haven’t really had before. Now we have somewhere to train them. It’ll help our program.”

It can also make things more convenient for student-athletes.

“We’ve been renting facilities off-campus since 2006,” Rice said. “Now our athletes can stay on campus. We don’t need to get in a car in the middle of winter to go train. ... This is available year-round, basically. In the spring, we may have a week where we can get outside, but the following week we can’t get outside. You can come back inside; you can train. It’s a nice multipurpose facility.”

If potential recruits respond to the facility the way Oakland’s current student-athletes have, it could give the Golden Grizzlies a big advantage over other schools.

“Phenomenal,” Konya said when asked about the reaction from athletes and coaches. “They love it. It’s first-class — leaves an impression. They didn’t skimp on any of the materials in constructing that dome. Our student-athletes, and prospects and recruits that come through there, and the community and youth groups, have commended how fantastic it has been for them to have a facility like this.”

Rice had a similar sentiment as Konya, in regards to the reaction of student-athletes.

“They love it,” he said. “They’ve been very excited since we started training indoors. The ones that have been around and had to drive off-campus, this is huge for them. Makes their life easier.”

Those interested in reserving space at the facility can call the Total Sports Complex at (248) 668-0166.