Maryland basketball coaches Brenda Frese and Kevin Willard both climbed into a backhoe and dug into the dirt adjacent to the Xfinity Center on Thursday, capping off the groundbreaking ceremony of a new $52 million practice facility for the Terps’ men’s and women’s basketball programs.

Maryland is the only Big Ten school without a basketball-only practice facility and will become one of the last Power Five programs to have one when construction of the Barry P. Gossett Basketball Performance Center is completed. The building is currently set to open prior to the 2025-26 season, according to an athletic department release.

“When you look at the rich history and tradition of these programs, our women’s basketball and men’s basketball programs, this is well deserved. This is something that should have been done, in my humble opinion, years ago,” athletic director Damon Evans said.

The facility will be smaller and cost more to build than originally planned. The estimated project total provided by the university in 2019 has since increased by $16 million in a contractor’s most recent estimate, per a Board of Regents finance committee meeting summary.

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A university spokesperson told Baltimore Business Journal that supply chain issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a rise in the cost of steel led to the price increase.

There will be one practice court as opposed to the originally planned two, part of the result of a 16,000-square-foot reduction. The 44,000-square-foot facility will also have a strength and conditioning center, office space, locker rooms and lounge areas, according to a release.

“There were a lot of things that kind of moved, you had different athletic directors, COVID had hit when we were really serious about the plans being built and then construction prices skyrocketed,” Frese said. “There’s been some hurdles we’ve had to get through.”

The new practice facility is privately funded with the exception of $5 million in state funding. The project has raised $36.1 million as of May 2023 and more private donations are being pursued to reach a goal of $47 million, according to a Board of Regents finance committee meeting summary.

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Frese and Willard both called the groundbreaking a “special” and “important” day in the history of both programs and expressed excitement at the opportunity to soon move into the new building. Both coaches also said having a basketball-specific facility, something that’s common throughout the country, will help in recruiting.

“You really truly need a place that your players can go, get away, focus and feel at home,” Willard said. “This is going to be a game changer for us.”

While Willard only had to wait just more than a year to break ground on a basketball-specific practice facility, Frese joined the Terps in 2002 and coached them to a national title in 2006. After 21 years of waiting, she smiled and laughed as she dug into the soil and saw the long-awaited plans finally coming to fruition.

“Being able to put that the fork into the ground and see it happen is a dream come true, because I know we were planning for this for a long time,” she said.