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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Published: Friday, 8/22/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

Rockets abuzz about Larimer Complex

UT dedicates latest in string of renovations

BY NICHOLAS PIOTROWICZ
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The University of Toledo officially dedicated its renovated Larimer Athletic Complex on Thursday, completing the third major upgrade to its athletics facilities in the past six years.

Speaking at the dedication, to which donors were invited, Toledo athletics director Mike O’Brien thanked those who contributed to the $5.5 million facility, which sits just beyond the Glass Bowl’s north end zone. The Larimer Complex houses the football offices and meeting spaces, an upgraded weight room, a lounge, and an academic center to be used by all of UT’s varsity teams.

“These things don’t happen without teamwork and great leaders at the top, and we clearly have that,” O’Brien said.

After a major overhaul turned Savage Hall into Savage Arena in 2008 and the Fetterman Training Center, an indoor facility, was completed in 2010, UT senior associate athletics director for development Dave Nottke said the Toledo’s athletics department identified a multiuse facility as its next step.

Obtaining state money for such a project was unreasonable — not to mention decorated with red tape — so Nottke and others within the athletics department, including O’Brien and football coach Matt Campbell, began soliciting UT’s donor base on the project. It was the only way to finance the initiative, Nottke said.

“It all has to be private. One way or another, it has to be private,” he said. “[Savage Arena] was too. That’s how we have to get things done.”

Nottke said Toledo was satisfied with its academic abilities, its support, and its other facilities, both indoors and outdoors. He called the Larimer Complex “the final piece,” and many donors soon saw the facility in the same terms. Donations from Arizona to Canada ranged from $100 to $750,000, with about a dozen six-figure donations in total.

UT still is about a $1 million away from its $5.5 million price tag for the facility, which was designed by the SSOE Group, a Toledo-based engineering firm.

“We tried to show to [donors] what it was going to do. If you’ve gone through the building, it’s a difference-maker,” Nottke said. “It’s a difference-maker in terms of recruiting, [and] it’s a great thing for branding. It’s wonderful for our kids. When a 17-year-old comes through to tour the facility with mom and dad, it’s eye-catching.”

Most donations were divided, at varying degrees, between athletics and academics, Nottke said.

For the football team’s part, Campbell said the facility already is making a difference. At the dedication, Campbell said the student-athlete experience at Toledo is “unmatched in the Midwest.”

“It’s already been a great addition to our kids, but when people come in and they see Fetterman, they see the Glass Bowl, and you add the Larimer piece of the puzzle … I think it’s a home run,” Campbell said.

Contact Nicholas Piotrowicz at: npiotrowicz@theblade.com, 724-6110, or on Twitter @NickPiotrowicz



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