Published 8/2/17 in the Washington Business Journal

The University of Maryland’s historic Cole Field House hasn’t seen much activity since the men’s and women’s basketball teams moved to the Xfinity Center in 2002.

That’s about to change.

Today, a group including UMd. President Wallace Loh, football coach DJ Durkin, and Maryland Senate President Mike Miller gathered to unveil the recently finished practice field at Cole Field House and to celebrate the groundbreaking of the second phase of the $200 million building’s renovation.

A new indoor practice football field has replaced the former basketball court, which had hosted two Final Fours in its day, including the famous 1966 edition that saw an integrated Texas Western team upset a heavily favored Kentucky team. Still under construction is the Maryland football team’s new locker room, which will be located one story below the practice field and will connect via a tunnel to Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium.

“The impact will be enormous,” Loh said in an interview, “especially when you consider that it will spawn all this research, that it will generate research funding and, if there are innovations, that they can have an impact.”

Indeed, the field house will be home to more than just football facilities. It will also house the Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance, which aims to bring leading neuroscience researchers to the university. It will also provide orthopedic treatment to local elderly people. The center is part of the second phase of renovation.

The center will involve collaboration between faculty at the university’s flagship College Park campus and at its Baltimore campus — something Miller pointed out as a benefit. “College Park is booming. And Baltimore needs a piece of that action as well,” he said. “So it’s going to help everybody.”

Miller added that he hoped to complete the long-rumored high-speed trainbetween D.C. and Baltimore to further economic ties between the two cities.

The Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which helps students launch startups, will also hold programs in the field house. Loh noted the importance of giving the academy its own space. “To have their own facility where [students] can come together, exchange ideas, create new companies, that is also going to be a driver for economic development in this region and the state,” he said.

Cole Field House originally opened in 1955, at the cost then of $3.3 million, and was home to Terrapin basketball for almost 50 years. The Terps played their final men’s basketball game there in March 2002, in a win against University of Virginia, ending that season 13-1 at the facility and going on to win the national championship that year.