NU moves forward with facility upgrades

Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips said Wednesday he is ready to move forward with the school’s facility master plans after observing 30-plus universities throughout the country in the past two months.

Phillips visited athletic and recreation facilities at Boston College, Connecticut, Drake, Duke, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Rice, Stanford, Vanderbilt, among others.

Phillips expected to hold meetings over the next few months to discuss future plans.

“We’re going along great,” Phillips said. “We had really good site visits all over the country. One thing I want to do is have all of the information out there. I want us to be ultra prepared. It’s really been a long process, one I really feel good about with the amount of information we’ve been able to collect.

“We’ll continue to move forward. Now, we’ll really start laying out what we want to do, how we want to do it, prioritize and look at costs.”

Phillips will be able to reference all of the different facilities he saw during his trips as they were all videotaped.

“You’re in so many places,” Phillips said. “It kind of blends in.”

Northwestern’s facility upgrades are expected to include all 19 intercollegiate sports, but also the school’s recreational facilities.

“It’s not just about athletics, but the student experience, the faculty experience and the needs they have,” Phillips said. “We’re looking at facilities that the varsity could use during the day and clubs and intramurals could use during the evening. It’s a win-win. That’s the beauty of what’s trying to do.”

Northwestern announced in October 2010 that it would begin a master plan study of its athletic and recreation facilities and has been progressing since then. Northwestern has also commissioned Populous sports architectural design firm to assist in the study.