Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin Athletics continues innovation, advancement to better student-athlete performance

Kellner family, Evers lead way in renovation of Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center
Soren Goldsmith

The University of Wisconsin Athletics’ plan to construct a new football practice facility took an important step late last month.

Earlier this year, Gov. Tony Evers proposed spending $285 million toward building UW’s new practice facility. To help accumulate the needed fund, the Building Champions campaign — which launched publicly in October — was organized.

UW Athletics purchased the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center (The Shell) from UW Recreation and Wellbeing for $5 million back in April with plans of demolishing it. In its place, a new football indoor practice facility will be constructed. It is the largest capital project in UW Athletics’ history, according to Badgers Building Champions.


The new facility will upgrade upon the 80-yard practice field and accompanying building features in the McClain Center that has been considered outdated by various coaches at the university.

“The McClain Center is approaching 40 years old and has served us well, but the time has come to upgrade.” UW Athletic Director Chris McIntosh said earlier this year. “The new facility is critical to the success of UW Athletics as we move towards the future.”

Other schools, including some in the Big Ten conference, have updated their own athletic spaces in recent years. The University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame have made substantial upgrades. It is this reason that serves as a contributing factor in UW’s plan to make its own upgrades.

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Recruiting is a factor, too, according to a report from 2019 — before the plan was set into motion.

“To compete in recruiting and booster programs means to be at the forefront — setting trends, not chasing them,” the report said.

An improved facility is believed to only attract more high level recruits to the school.

UW’s new practice field will be the full regulation 100 yards with 90-feet of ceiling space to accommodate kicking and punting drills. In addition, there are plans to build a new strength and conditioning center, an indoor track facility, a sports medicine office and a student-athlete dining space, among other features. An underground parking lot is also in the building plans.

Renderings of the plans can be found on the Building Champions website. The majority of UW student-athletes are said to benefit from the facility’s creation.

Building projects like this are possible thanks in part to the Building Champions campaign and donations such as those from longtime donors and alumni Mary and Ted Kellner, according to UW Athletics.

The Building Champions campaign is a non-revenue generating, student-athlete performance focused initiative. At its launch in October, they established a $75 million dollar donation goal. The Kellners donated a matching gift of $20 million. Total donations have reached $47 million, according to UW Athletics.

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According to the Badgers Building Champions website, the Kellner Matching Gift Program is designed to ensure competitiveness in the new era of the Big Ten Conference while providing an environment for students and student-athletes to succeed.

The Kellners also recently made a $25 million dollar donation to the $3.2 billion dollar All Ways Forward campaign in 2017. That campaign raised money for the entire university. Hamel Music Center, Nicholas Recreation Center, the Discovery Building and other facilities were some of the benefactors.

The Kellner family has made donations for decades. They contributed to the creation of the Kohl Center, Fluno Center, the SHAPE Tutoring Program in the School of Education and the Kellner Family Terrace.

“We are lifelong Badgers and proud Wisconsin alums,” the Kellners told UW Athletics. “This gift is meant to support the continued success of Wisconsin football and Wisconsin Athletics. Facilities play a big part in the process of building and sustaining a competitive program so we are thrilled to be leaders on this project and know many others will choose to support this important campaign.”

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