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Fieldhouse of Dreams

University Business, Jan 2011

As high school, college, and NBA basketball seasons power up, we hearken back to one of the best sports movie of all time: Hoosiers. In the film, the small-town Hickory High basketball team is about to do battle with the behemoth South Bend squad for the 1952 Indiana High School State Title. Hickory player Merle Webb famously declares, "Let's win this one for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here."

In the post-season tournament play that follows, players enter Hinkle Fieldhouse - back then a venerable sports venue for the state title game. They are nearly paralyzed by the overwhelming scale, stature, and grandiosity of the iconic sports arena. Once inside, Hickory Head Coach, Norman Dale intoned, "Welcome to Indiana Basketball (boys)."

That scene was set in 1952. Today, campus sports facility experts would call the original Hinkle Fieldhouse (basketball arena for Butler University) a "museum"--a grand old barn that has become a National Historic Landmark. Before a much-needed facelift in 1989, Hinkle was a hangar-like building with a serious lack of modern, big-time, upscale amenities.

So, why would Butler, along with so many other colleges and universities, look to renovate and create a Fieldhouse of Dreams? The answer is simple. Today's students are looking for full service, upscale campuses where they can have the best in residence life, athletics, entertainment, recreation, and fitness facilities--all high demand amenities in a one-stop campus based destination site location.

In a time where most colleges and universities are strapped for cash, capital outlay and debt capacity, campuses are planning to leverage their unencumbered real estate--co-developing state-of-the-art, full-service campus athletics and recreation amenities through partnerships with private development companies.

The demand for upscale student intramural and intercollegiate sport activities has given rise to the co-development and even co-utilization of school, college and university stadiums, arenas, and especially new, sate-of-the-art Fieldhouses.

Today's Fieldhouses are expertly built with a fine attention to detail--including leading edge amenities--read as, upscale hospitality concessions, sports video arcades, workout rooms, and even pro sports merchandising shops. Just ask Jerry Good, the President of The Fieldhouse USA, America's premier basketball Fieldhouse of choice for school kids, young athletes, and families. Jerry Good should know about upscale amenities having already developed residential communities, and uniquely, co-locating destination entertainment, adventure, and ecotourism attractions.

The Fieldhouse USA venue is the first of its kind--a national brand, premium quality practice, competition, and post-season tournament basketball facility. Located in Fishers, Indiana, the prototype Fieldhouse is a worldwide leader in basketball excellence. In fact, The Fieldhouse USA venue has been recognized as "the finest basketball facility in the United States" by the United States Specialty Sports Association and Amateur Athletic Union officials.


The Fieldhouse USA will create higher education campus partners through co-location and co-development of facilities on or adjacent to college campuses--resulting in new student, athletic, and leisure time recreational opportunities that many smaller colleges and universities could not otherwise afford.

Beyond its youth basketball training, competition, and tournament and facilities, the Fieldhouse offers state-of-the art amenities for college, high school, and middle school student recreation, fitness, and physical education as well as an ideal location to hold daytime adult enrichment classes--yoga, karate, and tai chi.

Importantly, Fieldhouse co-location(s) present a somewhat unique advantage for colleges and universities that offer sports business degrees, a field that continues to grow in the United States and abroad. Institutions can now establish internship programs with The Fieldhouse USA, where students can receive professional internship experiences learning how to operate, support, manage, and market state-of-the-art recreation and athletic competition facilities.

When asked about the mission and goals of his company, Jerry Good notes that "the Fieldhouse USA represents a unique opportunity to partner with communities, municipalities, schools, colleges and universities to provide a safe, quality environment to develop young adults of character and integrity by teaching the virtues of fair play, competition, and teamwork."

In a separate, yet related megatrend, colleges and universities are now utilizing private development companies to meet increasing needs for student housing. With an increase at some campuses in the number of students attending college, institutions are short of housing and growth capital to build new dormitories. Demand for student housing has soared--and private builders such as American Campus Communities are rushing to meet it.

These off-campus or adjacent campus properties are frequently built, operated, and co-sourced by private developers?representing potentially profitable housing opportunities and new auxiliary revenue streams. Private student housing development companies plan, construct, and operate college communities including residence halls, mixed-use developments, and even later life communities for faculty, alumni, and benefactors of their college or university of choice.

Students typically pay a monthly fee to live in these state-of-the-art student housing facilities--many of which are loft and villa-like settings, with private bedrooms and baths, professional style kitchens, weekly housecleaning services, plasma televisions, high speed internet, and swimming pools and hot tubs.

The co-development of college and university campuses through companies like The Fieldhouse USA and American Campus Communities represent relationships in which institutions of higher education can take advantage of industry expertise, timelines of building design and construction, and experience in avoiding typical pitfalls in building and operations.

Today, schools, colleges and universities are living up to rising student and parent expectations by paying heed to the infamous quote from the film Field of Dreams-- "if you build it, they will come"--to a college or university near you, equipped with a state-of-the-art Fieldhouse of Dreams.

--James Martin and James E. Samels, Future Shock columnists, are authors of Turnaround: Leading Stressed Colleges and Universities to Excellence (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). Martin is a professor of English at Mount Ida College (Mass.) and Samels is president and CEO of The Education Alliance.