BOWLING GREEN - The Bowling Green State University athletic department is about to put a front door on Doyt L. Perry Stadium.
The home of the Falcon football team, which was built in 1966, has never had a signature entrance. That problem will be solved with the construction of the Sebo Center in the north end zone.
The facility will be named for Bob and Karen Sebo, who gave the school $4.4 million last October - $3.5 million of which is being used for the athletic complex.
The Sebo Center will be more than a front door, though. The building will house a strength-training area and training facilities for all sports, as well as coaches offices and meeting rooms for the football program. A heritage room and an outdoor pavilion facing the field also are part of the building's plans.
The heritage room will house trophies and other mementos from BG's athletic history.
"When people walk in, we want them to know they have arrived at Bowling Green State University," said BG athletic director Paul Krebs. "They will see some of our athletic heritage and visuals that will create an impression on recruits as they come into the building.
"Visually, this building
becomes the front door of the stadium. It becomes the front door of the athletic department. So we're trying to make a strong visual impression that we've arrived."
Bob Sebo, a university trustee, and his wife gave the school $4.4 million last October. Part of that gift, the second-largest in school history, was given to fund a lecture series and expand a program in the music department.
But $3.5 million was given to start the fund-raising on the athletic project, which is expected to cost roughly $7.5 million. Sebo said the facility will help the school both on and off the playing field.
"The thing that makes memories is winning football and basketball teams," Sebo said. "They draw students together and make them proud of the school, and after they graduate, alumni become closer to the university.
"But at the university level, we had to crank it up a notch and romance our alumni. Plus, high school recruits are so smart. They won't go to a school just because it has a great name. Schools need a great football stadium, a great practice field and a great weight room and training room."
The plans for the Sebo Center, which will cover roughly 40,000 square feet, include weight and training rooms on the ground floor. Krebs said getting new facilities in both of these areas put the Sebo Center at the top of the list of athletic facilities to build.
"All of our student-athletes are going to benefit from it," Krebs said. "From a momentum, from a morale, from a recruiting standpoint, our weight room and our training room need to be enhanced. This is a way to give every program a jump, a little extra, and a way to enhance their recruiting efforts."
Meeting rooms will be created on the second floor, with the football coaches' offices on the third floor.
"Given the quality of our football program, its ranking and its exposure, our football offices and our team meeting rooms and classrooms for our players are substandard," Krebs said. "[Improving them] was a huge priority for us so we're able to keep the football program moving forward."
The side of the Sebo Center that faces the field will include seating for the marching band, a balcony Krebs said will be used for "development or donor cultivation," and an upper balcony behind the coaches' offices.
Krebs said the project is on an "aggressive" timetable, with bids going out in May in the hope that contracts will be awarded in time to start work in July. On that time line, the Sebo Center should be built by the summer of 2006.
The fund-raising portion also is on an aggressive time line, because no state or university dollars will be used to build it. That would make the Sebo Center the largest privately funded building in the history of the university.
"I think we're closing in on $5 million raised," Krebs said.
Krebs said the ambitious nature of the fund-raising made the Sebos' donation critical in bringing the new facility to life.
"It's hard to put into words how valuable [the gift] was on a couple of levels," Krebs said. "It gives the project legs and makes the project a reality. It takes it off the board from a concept to a reality. It was critical in order to get this project moving.
"It's also important because of the perception that our programs are valued and worth the investment. We've got a couple who's stepping forward to help us realize our dreams and reach our potential. It sends a message to other alumni that this is a program and university that's worth the support and worth the investment."
Contact John Wagner at: