Ohio State fans cheer on the Buckeyes at the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Mo. (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)These new facilities were flagged in a Facebook post by Ohio State head wrestling coach Tom Ryan on his personal page Friday afternoon. "Can't wait to grab my shovel and help! Finest wrestling complex ever built is on its way! A place not only for our college team, but for youngsters all over Ohio to pursue their dreams! The new home for Ohio State Wrestling. Digging begins in 2016!"
Ryan's post also had a link to a story on Cleveland.com based on a meeting Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith had with the Northeast Ohio Media Group earlier this month. Smith presented additional, updated information on three major athletic facilities projects for the Columbus campus with a total cost of more than $67 million. Two of those new facilities will benefit the Ohio State wrestling program and its fans.
In the works is a new training facility for the Ohio State wrestling team at a cost of $7.5 million. It would replace the existing Steelwood Athletic Training Facility, presently home to the Buckeye wrestling program as well as men's and women's gymnastics, and fencing, located west of campus, off Kenny Road. The new facility would be more centrally located to other existing athletic facilities such as Ohio Stadium, French Fieldhouse, and Schottenstein Center, as well as other new, planned facilities also outlined in Smith's presentation in Cleveland. About $2 million has been raised for the new wrestling facility, according to Smith.
In addition to a new training facility, the Buckeye mat program will also gain a new place for dual meets. The $30 million Covelli Arena will host wrestling as well as volleyball, gymnastics and four other sports. It will replace the nearly 60-year-old St. John Arena, located across Lane Avenue from Ohio Stadium. The new, 4,000-seat arena will be named for Sam and Caryn Covelli, owners of the nation's largest Panera Bread franchise. The Covellis contributed $10 million for the facility in November 2012, the largest single gift to Buckeye sports in the history of Ohio State. Smith told Cleveland.com that fundraising for Covelli Arena is above the $20 million mark, and groundbreaking is expected to take place in 2016.
The third project will bring most of Ohio State's 1,000 varsity athletes into the same part of campus by constructing a new $30 million home for Olympic sports. This new student-athlete development center will be attached to the existing football headquarters at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, and will replace a smaller wing of offices and training rooms which will be torn down to make way for the new construction. Smith said the athletic department has raised more than $20 million for the facility; Ohio State plans to complete fundraising this year, then break ground in 2016. The plan will go before the Ohio State Board of Trustees at its August meeting.
This trio of projects is part of a long-range plan presented in 2013 to center athletic facilities in a village on the west side of Olentangy River Road, where the football facility, Schottenstein Center basketball arena and practice facility, track stadium, baseball stadium, softball stadium and outdoor tennis courts are located.
Smith said the Buckeyes' recent athletic successes have helped fuel the fundraising for these new facilities. In addition to the wrestling team winning its first NCAA team title, Ohio State also won national titles in football, pistol, synchronized swimming and rowing.