With funding in place and legislative approval in hand, the University of Montana is moving forward with a series of building projects, from an academic hub for student athletes to a $9.3 million executive training center.

The university also plans to make progress this week in reviewing East Broadway as a possible site for Missoula College, and the Adams Center will soon move forward with a basement renovation needed to attract larger shows.

Michael Reid, vice president of administration and finance at UM, said funding has been secured for most of the projects now in the pipeline. The 2013 Legislature approved construction, including a student-athlete academic center.

“We’re looking at starting the student-athlete academic center next spring,” Reid said. “We’re just waiting to get final information from the state architects and engineers.”

The $2.5 million project calls for a two-level addition on the west side of the Adams Center. The new facility will provide both office space for athletic programs and a monitored study suite for student athletes.

State architects say the project will further enhance the Adams Center’s most prominent facade. Work on the center’s basement also is planned to help accommodate traveling shows too large for the current facility.

“With that project, the Adams Center is funding a $500,000 basement shell-out for future expansion,” Reid said. “As long as we’re doing construction on the student-athlete study center, we’ll shell out the basement so the Adams Center can bring in all the shows it wants to.”

Brad Murphy, director of the Adams Center, said funding for the basement project was raised in revenues generated by the facility. He said the project will include adding dressing rooms for performances and additional locker room space for high school sporting tournaments.

“It’s needed to bring in bigger shows,” Murphy said. “Expanding our facilities will be huge. It’ll bring us up to industry standards.”

Murphy said venues in Spokane offer performers eight dressing rooms while Bozeman offers six. The Adams Center, however, currently offers just two, “and they aren’t very nice,” Murphy said.

The Adams Center also lacks locker room space, putting high school athletes in conflict with NCAA athletes for facilities when tournaments overlap.

“It’ll help us attract high school tournaments better so we’re not kicking our student athletes out of the locker rooms,” Murphy said. “We hosting Class C women’s basketball in 2015, so we’ll have to get by until then. But hopefully, by 2016 we’ll have this done.”

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Reid said $2.5 million also has been secured to construct a small hub outside the boiler plant to house the school’s Internet technology services, and $1.1 million has been raised to complete the basement of the Payne Family Native American Center.

Roughly $3.6 million will be sought to finish work at the Interdisciplinary Science Building, and $9.3 million in funding – along with legislative authority – has been secured to build the Gilkey Center for Executive Education.

The project is slated for the Clover Bowl, located off Arthur Avenue on the west edge of campus, adjacent to the Gallagher Business Building.

“We’re starting the design phase on that and we’ll work with the state architects and engineers,” Reid said. “The authority has been delegated and the funding is in place for that.”

Larry Gianchetta, dean of the School of Business, said planning for the new Gilkey Center has been in the works for 10 years. The building will include a footprint of roughly 10,000 square feet and stand two stories tall with a basement.

The new center will facilitate training in leadership, entrepreneurship and executive education. The program will utilize the basement and first floor while the UM Foundation will lease the top floor.

“It’ll be a great facility for campus,” Gianchetta said. “We have the green light. If everything went really well, we could be digging a hole in the fall of 2014.”

Reid said the feasibility study for East Broadway and its ability to accommodate Missoula College is now in draft form. The study is expected to be finalized shortly, at which point it will be reviewed by university and state officials and publicly vetted.

Reid also said school officials will begin looking to meet future building needs.

“We’re starting to put those long-range building needs together,” Reid said. “We’ll start having the discussions on that this week.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

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