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New gymnastics facility to provide safe, efficient practices for athletes

Athletes Village will receive a new $15.5 million building in January 2025.
Image by David Stager
The new gymnastics facility is set to be completed in January 2025.

The University of Minnesota began construction on its new gymnastics facility on March 27 with the building set to be completed by January 2025.

The new, privately funded facility was approved by the Board of Regents at their June 2023 meeting and will put the gymnastics team on the perimeter of Athletes Village on the south side of the Larson Football Performance Center.

Among the new additions to the $15.5 million facility are six foam pits, a full-size floor exercise and five beams as opposed to the two at their current facility at Peik Gymnasium.

Head coach Jenny Hansen said her top-15 nationally ranked team had to get “creative” with how they trained at Peik since they were limited with what equipment they had. 

“[The new facility is] just going to allow us to train smarter — train in different ways that keep our athletes healthier,” Hansen said.

The upgraded facility will be an asset in Hansen’s recruiting methods. She said several competitor teams have state-of-the-art facilities, so her staff had to get creative with their coaching to remain competitive.

With the additions in the future facility, Hansen said gymnasts can come in to enhance the skills they established at their private gyms as opposed to Peik.

“They’re just going to have that comfort level again,” Hansen said. “Versus us teaching them the new tricks and then adapting and figuring it out.”

Assistant athletics director-facilities operations Jeff Seifriz said the new facility will be 60% larger than Peik and make efficient use of the space to enhance the safety of athletes when they train. Peik had no foam pits and had showers with concrete dividers and restrooms that were “chipped up and broken off.”

The NCAA limits student athletes’ involvement in “athletically related activities” to 20 hours per week. The new facility will have built-in padding and mats, eliminating the need for gymnasts to use practice time to set up.

“With your 20 hours per week practice, [setting up mats] doesn’t make for an efficient practice,” Seifriz said.

With the new facility being in Athletes Village, gymnasts will be a short distance away from Hansen’s office and the University’s nutrition and medicine facilities. Hansen said the short distance between amenities makes building team chemistry much easier since all the team’s needs are in one location.

“Whether they want to get away from each other or not, it’s going to be a lot harder now because they’re going to be together all the time,” Hansen said.

The facility has been a long time in the making, according to senior Mya Hooten, who said she first heard about it when she was a junior in high school.

“I was on my recruiting trip,” Hooten said with a laugh. “So years ago.”

Senior Emily Koch said the team was supposed to receive the facility when she was getting recruited but COVID-19 stopped the process. Koch and Hooten both get to use the new facility next year as they announced their return to the program for their fifth year on April 26. 

Seifriz said it is unclear as to who, besides the Gophers gymnastics team, would be able to use the facility. This includes the men’s gymnastics team, which transitioned to a competitive club program after the Board of Regents voted to eliminate their NCAA status in 2020. 

The new facility will stand in the spot of what used to be two beach volleyball courts. Seifriz said there are no plans to replace the two courts.

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