The R Big Build got a little bigger yesterday.
At its monthly meeting, the Rutgers Board of Governors gave final approval to two major projects (we’ll touch base on the second below), including the construction of the new practice and training facility for basketball, gymnastics, and wrestling.
The R B1G Build was launched about 14 months ago with the goal of raising $100 million for the construction of the now-named RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, a new training facility for soccer, lacrosse, and tennis, along with conversion of the Hale Center into a football only facility. And there were a few readers who, along the way, questioned how that amount of money could pay for all that construction in the NY/NJ metro area. They were right in their doubt.
The practice facility was okayed at $115 million and will require the University to borrow about $26 million to pay for the incorporated parking deck, with parking fees to be used to pay it off.
When we last wrote about RU’s finances and the R B1G Build, we pointed out that the fund had raised - including the $25 million tax credit - a bit over $70 million. Checking the website today, the total is at $71.1 million.
And that concerns me. I do think that funding will be there; it has to be. As the NJ Advance Media story states:
Rutgers expects to pay for the complex primarily through athletic department fundraising, $25 million in tax credits and an $18 million naming rights contribution from RWJBarnabas Health. [emphasis added]
The fact that the project is underway without full funding in hand is not necessarily a problem. It does, though, play into the hands of the naysayers - such as Rutgers professor Mark Killingsworth - when they fear that even more University money will be needed to cover costs and shortfalls. Something that the story points out:
If fundraising doesn't cover the the remaining costs, the university is authorized to provide interim financing for any part of the project, according to the resolution passed by the board. [emphasis added]
The two-year timeline for the construction certainly allows for more fundraising, but it also puts pressure on Hobbs & Co. to put the pedal down to get the funding for the practice facility next to the RAC. And that doesn’t even consider the other two parts of the B1G Build.
Meanwhile, projects continue to be done at the Stadium, with the Marco Battaglia Football Practice area underway.
About that other project....
We’re going off the reservation for this one, but, you know, I do that all the time. Another project that got the okay at the Board of Governors’ meeting was a new performance center for Mason Gross School of the Arts (MGSA). It’s part of a major development project being put together by Devco, the folks who built The Yard at College Avenue.
The project on Livingston Avenue is The New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, a world-class facility that will host four companies in a state-of-the-art 22-story building that features two theaters, three rehearsal stages and 240 apartments. For its part, the University is contributing $17 million for MGSA to gain a professional theater.
“Getting Rutgers to have its performances based downtown is great for the city, but it’s just as important for the students to be working in a professional theater alongside professional actors and stagehands,” commented DEVCO president and RU alum Chris Paladino. “That opportunity to be in a professional environment is priceless.”
In addition to the Mason Gross School, the George Street Playhouse, Crossroads Theatre, and The American Repertory Ballet will all call the center home.