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Notre Dame announces plan to expand football facilities with new hall on campus

IMG_9992by:Tyler Horka04/20/24


The wait for an expansion to Notre Dame’s football facilities will soon be over. The Fighting Irish hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday morning, just a couple hours prior to kickoff of the annual Blue-Gold Game, for what will be called the Jack and Kathy Shields Family Hall. The new building, which will work in conjunction with the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2026.

Space had gotten tight in the 96,000-square-foot “Gug,” which was built not too far northeast of of Notre Dame Stadium in 2005. When Blue & Gold asked then-Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick and head coach Marcus Freeman what the main concern with the current state of football facilities was last summer, they both said size and space.

That won’t be an issue any longer.

The Jack and Kathy Shields Family Hall, labeled a “football support facility” that will be located along Courtney Lane on the east side of campus and is named after Shields Health Solutions founder and chairman Jack Shields (1983, ’86), will increase football facility accommodations by nearly 50 percent by bringing the total football facility size to 150,000 square feet, per a university press release.

Shields, who partnered with Pat and Jana Eilers and Dave and Clare Butler as donors of the project, played middle linebacker for the Irish. He was a member of the 1980 Notre Dame team that started the year 9-0-1 and ended it narrowly losing to Herschel Walker and the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs, 17-10, in the Sugar Bowl. Eilers and Butler also suited up for the Irish decades ago.

“The Shields family’s remarkable gift, together with the support of many others, will enable us to greatly enhance our ability to support student-athletes physically, mentally, socially and academically,” Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said in a statement. “Notre Dame has long been committed to both athletic success and care for the well-being of our student-athletes, and this new facility will help us to excel on the field while we advance the study of sports science, nutrition and medicine on campus, with benefits for athletes everywhere.”

Inside the Gug, Notre Dame student-athletes infamously ate catered food delivered in trucks. Now they’ll eat meals prepared on site in a state of the art cafeteria kitchen. Coaches won’t have to cram into small office spaces in the Gug either. They’ll be much more comfortable in the new building.

The expansion will include, per the release, “an advanced training room, a stand-alone sports medicine facility, an equipment facility with body scanning and fabrication technology, a new and expanded locker room, meeting rooms, including a two-level, all-team auditorium and an augmented reality walkthrough room, media innovation spaces, including recording studios and photo studios, academic support spaces and a new player nutrition area designed to foster community between teams and model healthy eating.”

Coaches and administrators, including Swarbrick and Freeman, are always adamant facilities have never been the main thing holding Notre Dame back from winning a national championship in football. But bigger and better is always better than older and smaller, and in the first month of new Notre Dame AD Pete Bevacqua’s tenure the Irish are taking massive strides in putting their resources on par with the big-hitting programs across the country — and then some.

“This undertaking allows us to continue our effort to be the most advanced sports performance unit in college athletics,” Bevacqua said in a statement.

Between the construction of the Irish Athletics Center, recent renovations to Notre Dame Stadium and now the creation of the Jack and Kathy Shields Hall, it’s impossible to deny Notre Dame has been quite progressive on the facelifting front. If highly recruited student-athletes don’t end up in South Bend, it won’t be because the Irish don’t have enough on campus to offer them.

And if the Irish don’t snap the national title drought, it won’t be because they don’t have the means that make something of that magnitude possible in their own backyard.

“To our recruits that are out there, we want you to understand this is a reflection of the commitment this university has to making sure our football program and our student-athletes have the most opportunities to have success,” Freeman said.

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