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Gophers' new Athletes Village up and running

The football players lounge in the David and Janis Larson Football Performance Center overlooks indoor practice field as seen during media tour of the new University of Minnesota Athletes Village in Minneapolis on Saturday Feb, 10, 2018. (John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press)1 / 2
The Gophers Mens Basketball practice court at the Land O' Lakes Performance Center as seen during media tour of the new University of Minnesota Athletes Village in Minneapolis on Saturday Feb, 10, 2018. (John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press)2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota's Athletes Village is up and running, all 338,000 square feet now full of players, coaches, tutors, chefs and administrators dedicated to making school easier, and more fruitful, for the university's approximately 750 student-athletes.

The $166 million project includes three new buildings: a football center including a locker room, weight room and staff offices; an indoor football practice facility; and the "Center for Excellence" that includes academic, nutrition and training centers as well as practice facilities for men's and women's basketball.

The university opened the new construction for a media tour on Saturday.

About $107 million in private funding has been raised for the project, including a naming-rights sponsorship with Land O' Lakes on the Center for Excellence. The rest of the project was paid for with long- and short-term debt — the school approved up to $89 million in borrowing in 2016 — the athletics department plans to pay for privately.

The project officially broke ground in December 2015.

Among notable facilities:

• A cafeteria, or "nutrition center," open to all U students but exclusive to athletes Monday through Thursday nights;

• Identical, three-court basketball practice facilities and office space for the men's and women's programs;

• A 16,000-foot weight room exclusively for the football team;

• An academic center with 34 tutoring rooms for single and group sessions;

• A "Leadership Center" to help student-athletes find jobs or move on to graduate school.

• Scheduled to open in the fall is a $13 million outdoor track and field facility to replace the one displaced by the new football facilities. That will include a nine-lane track and space for all other outdoor disciplines.

Other programs, such as volleyball, softball and baseball, are moving into the former football facilities in the Gibson-Nagurski building at various places.

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