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UC sets indoor practice facility and performance center groundbreaking date

Zach Stipe, University of Cincinnati,

CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati Athletics Department and the UC Foundation will hold an on-campus ground-breaking ceremony for the game-changing, multi-million-dollar Indoor Practice Facility and Performance Center project on May 23.
Larry and Rhonda Sheakley's transformational gift spearheaded the project and marked the largest single gift in UC Athletics history.
The new state-of-the art facilities will elevate the Cincinnati student-athlete experience, giving Bearcats an unrivaled advantage on the playing field and on the recruiting trail.
The 84,000-square-foot Indoor Practice Facility will feature a 120-yard football field that will give Cincinnati's perennial championship-contending football program a year-round, permanent, all-weather home. The facility will also be used by other UC programs. It is being built on the site of the current Sheakley Athletic Center at Corry Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue.
The Indoor Practice Facility is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2024 football season.
The 96,000-square-foot performance center will include offices for the football program, and feature performance nutrition stations, a dining hall, sports performance weight room, athletic training room and mental health services. The performance center will be constructed next to the indoor practice facility. It is scheduled to open prior to the 2025 football season.
"These new facilities are essential for us to compete for championships in the Big 12 and immediately help us level the playing field as we enter our new conference," said Director of Athletics John Cunningham. "I want to thank President Pinto, our Board of Trustees and, of course, our generous donors, led by Larry and Rhonda Sheakley, for leading this project as we all work together to provide our student-athletes with the resources needed to have the best experiences on and off the field. The start of this project and the success of the Day One Campaign are crucial to our future success. May 23 will be an exciting day."
The University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees approved the funding for the project at a maximum of $134 million.
More than $88 million has been raised for the Day One Ready Campaign, which is funding this project and several other initiatives.
Gensler and MSA Sport are serving as the architects and designers for the project, while Messer Construction is the construction manager.
The first renderings were released May 11.
Naming opportunities are still available for the Indoor Practice Facility and Performance Center. Those interested can contact UCATS at or via phone at 513-556-4884.
Sheakleys' Gift the Largest in UC Athletics History

Sheakley, a longtime UC supporter, has made the largest single gift in the history of UC Athletics. This lead gift was directly responsible for the start of the Indoor Practice Facility and Performance Center Project.
"It's a tremendous honor for Rhonda and me to continue providing opportunities for University of Cincinnati student-athletes, which has been a passion of my family's for many, many years," Larry Sheakley said. "Seeing the growth of Cincinnati Athletics in recent years, culminating in the entry in the Big 12 this summer, has been beyond our wildest dreams and very gratifying. We are excited for the future and looking forward to the impact these facilities will have on all Bearcats in the coming years."
Sheakley is the owner and chief executive officer of the Sheakley Group, a comprehensive HR solutions company. In the past, the Sheakleys' gifts have named the Sheakley Lawn in Varsity Village and a suite in Nippert Stadium after his father and mother – in addition to the Sheakley Athletic Complex. He also created the Sheakley Quarterback Scholarship in 2014, counting Desmond Ridder among its recipients.
"We're incredibly grateful to have friends and fellow Bearcats like Larry and Rhonda," said UC President Neville G. Pinto. "As lifelong Cincinnatians and longtime fans, they have been by our side through the amazing growth we've seen in our athletics programs. As we take the next step to joining the Big 12, it's meaningful to have their visionary support of our university and our student-athletes."
More on the Day One Ready Campaign

UC is entering into a new era as a Power Five school on July 1, 2023.

And in joining the Big 12 — one of the nation's top conferences — every competitive advantage matters for the Bearcats' 450-plus student-athletes.

As a significant part of the university's Next, Now Campaign, UC Athletics' Day One Ready Campaign is a $100 million fundraising initiative that's focused on achieving Next Level Success in our new conference. With generous support for signature facilities, student-athlete wellness and championship readiness, the Bearcats won't just be prepared to compete on their first official day in the Big 12. They'll be ready to bring championships home to Cincinnati.
About the University of Cincinnati Foundation  

Established in 1975, the University of Cincinnati Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and the private sector fundraising entity for the University of Cincinnati and UC Health. The Foundation supports UC's aspirations through philanthropic collaboration with the colleges, the Academic Health Center, UC Health and other units to maximize private support. The Foundation's advancement efforts promote the development of productive, enduring relationships with alumni, friends, colleagues, students, foundations, corporations and the Greater Cincinnati community. For more information, please visit  
About Cincinnati Athletics

The University of Cincinnati Department of Athletics competes at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics with the vision to reach Next Level Success for all 18 varsity teams and more than 450 student-athletes. The Bearcats have a proud athletics history, winning eight national championships and 118 conference titles. The Cincinnati men's basketball team is among the 15 winningest programs all-time, while the football team became the first non-Power Five program to compete in the College Football Playoff in 2021. Olympic gold medalist volleyball player Jordan Thompson, NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson and Major League Baseball legend Sandy Koufax are among the several luminaries who have competed as Bearcats.
Beginning in July 2023, the Bearcats will enter a new era as a Power Five School when they officially join the Big 12 Conference, positioning Cincinnati among the nation's premier athletics programs.
Off the field, UC student-athletes continue to find success, as well, collectively posting a 3.4 GPA in the spring of 2023 with 78 percent earning spots on the Honor Roll.
Under the leadership of Director of Athletics John Cunningham, and supported by more than 150 full-time staff members, UC Athletics' mission is to connect our community, enhance our university and impact the lives of student-athletes as they prepare to change the world on and off the field.
For more information, visit