November 17, 2019 Currently: 74° | Complete forecast

Rebel athletics:

UNLV celebrates opening of the new football facility

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Wade Vandervort

UNLV football player Javin White is interviewed in the lobby of the new Fertitta Football Complex, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

Fertitta Football Complex Ribbon Cutting

The locker room is shown during a tour of the new Fertitta Football Complex at UNLV, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. Launch slideshow »

After three years and $34.8 million dollars’ worth of construction, UNLV finally unveiled its new on-campus football facility in a ceremony on Thursday.

The Fertitta Football Complex, named for donors Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, is now officially open to the Rebels, who plan to begin moving into the two-story building as early as Monday.

The project was announced in September 2016 with an initial donation pledge of $10 million from the Fertitta family. The original cost estimate for the 73,000-square-foot facility was $22.25 million and construction was to begin in early 2017.

The project hit some fundraising snags, however, and ground was not broken until January 2018.

None of that mattered on Thursday, however, as Sanchez, athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois and acting university president Marta Meana were all smiles when speaking to assembled donors, alumni and program supporters.

Meana and Reed-Francois spoke about the persistent fundraising efforts that made the building a reality, while Sanchez thanked individual boosters — detailing his close relationship with the Fertitta family — and outlined how he believes the facility will help the program in the short- and long-term.

“I’m so thankful to so many people that donated,” Sanchez said. “This is such a unique project because almost all of it — 95 percent — was really community dollars. And that’s a big deal.”

The state-of-the-art building is located next to the Lied Athletic Complex, which previously housed the football program. The new facility features a 10,000-square-foot weight room that can accommodate upwards of 80 players at a time, a spacious locker room with individual ventilation in each of the 112 lockers, a sports medicine room with 10 training tables and three hydrotherapy tubs (including underwater treadmills), an academic center with more than 20 desktop computers and a dining area with a seating capacity of 120 and 2,500 square feet of kitchen space.

The second floor contains meeting rooms for each position group as well as offices for the coaching staff. The coaches’ offices overlook the two practice fields at Rebel Park.

Some of the perks include a barber shop and a players’ lounge with five big-screen televisions, multiple video-game systems and pool tables.

Reed-Francois said the feedback from players has been unanimously positive.

“This building is going to have an immediate impact with our current student-athletes,” Reed-Francois said. “They’re going to be able to come in and they’re going to feel how special it is and they’re going to know how much we care. This building is a testament to how much we care about them and we want to provide holistically for all our student-athletes.”

Linebacker Javin White, a senior captain, said the Fertitta Footbal Complex is a symbol of what the program can be and the heights UNLV can reach.

“Being a player, you’re seeing the way the university and our team has changed,” White said. “It means a lot that the university and everybody around the community is understanding that football at UNLV is going to become a big thing.”

For Sanchez, the new building is the culmination of years of hard work, representing the kind of investment that has historically been hard to come by for the UNLV football program.

“I think the thing I’m most proud of is the opportunity it’s going to create for our current student-athletes and athletes to come,” Sanchez said. “It’s a state-of-the-art training center, being able to take care of our diet and nutrition and feed our kids the right way. But just the sense of pride that’ll come with it. Walking into a state-of-the-art facility that can create a little bit of swagger, and you know we need that around here.”

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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