Thursday, September 12th was a day that many former and current coaches, players, fans and athletic staff have dreamed of for decades. It has finally happened, as Rutgers officially opened a dedicated practice facility, the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, for it’s winter sports teams: men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, and gymnastics.
When Pat Hobbs took over as athletic director four years ago this November, Rutgers was tragically behind in regard to facilities. Not just behind its fellow Big Ten members and every other power five program in Division I, but also multiple mid-major schools as well. NJIT, a low major just up the road in Newark, opened its own privately funded, 50+ million dollar event center two years ago. Rutgers was woefully behind the arms race and modern age regarding facilities for its athletic programs.
That is no longer the case. The 307,000 square foot, four story facility that has dedicated practice and training areas, locker rooms and offices for all four programs. In addition, the APC as it’s being called, hosts a “world-class sports medicine program” due to the partnership with RWJBarnabas Health. The APC also has a 535 space parking deck, a dining terrace and soon to be opened merchandise store.
It’s a tremendous accomplishment and much needed for all four programs. This is a huge boost for recruiting as well as drastically improving the experience of its student-athletes. Wrestling previously operated out of the Barn on College Avenue, a space that is not even close to its Big Ten competition. Both hoops programs shared space at the RAC, along with other groups and events held on campus. Now all four programs can come and go as they please and access the facility at all hours. It’s a huge development as Rutgers looks to move up the standings in all four sports in Big Ten play. They now have a world class facility with world class medical care to call home.
This is a total game changer for Rutgers and just the latest in an impressive list of new facilities built in Hobbs’ tenure so far. From the press release:
“Launched on Jan. 20, 2016, “R Big Ten Build” has raised $101,220,854.00 in public and private support from 4,159 contributors. Facilities to rise via the initiative include the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Academic Success Center, the Marco Battaglia Practice Complex, the Fred Hill Baseball/Softball Training Complex, the Harriett and Bob Druskin Strength and Conditioning Center, the Ron and Joanna Garutti Strength and Conditioning Center, and The Brown Family Football Locker Room.”
This is no longer the “same old Rutgers.” It’s a new day, a long overdue one, but a day that puts these four programs farther down the road to accomplishing great things on the banks.