On Friday, Sept. 13, Wake Forest officially opened the Sutton Sports Performance Center and the Shah Basketball Complex as the two newest additions to the school’s athletics facilities.
The more than 110,000 square feet of new facilities are at the heart of Wake Forest’s efforts to compete at the highest level of collegiate sports by providing world-class facilities for its student-athletes.
“Our responsibility here is to continue to find ways to arm our incredible world-class educators and coaches across this entire campus: on our courts, on our fields, in our biology department, in our business school and in our physics labs with world-class, transformational resources and facilities,” Mit Shah said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “The journey that has gotten [Shah and Ben Sutton here] was one that was simply born, by the love, the compassion and the embrace of all that is Wake Forest University.”
Shah has donated $5 million for the construction of the 24,000-square-foot Shah Basketball Complex, which is connected to the Sutton Sports Performance Center and provides dedicated practice courts for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Prior to the opening of the basketball complex, basketball practices were held off-campus at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum (LJVM).
Ben Sutton was the main benefactor of the Sutton Sports Performance Center by donating $15 million to the construction of the four-level, 87,000 square-foot building, which includes 10,000 square feet of strength and conditioning area for the football team. The Sutton Sports Performance Center also has a strength and training area dedicated to Olympic sports.
“Wake Forest changed my life. My parents went to Wake Forest, and that’s where they met. Then, I came here, and it really is a place where I learned a lot about leadership, about collaboration and building team. You know, I was able to kind of build a great business from my years as being an apprentice, basically, in the Athletics Department,” Sutton said. “I don’t think there’s any amount of money I could give to this institution that would be too much.”
Both buildings will also provide advanced sports science technology that will help coaches analyze and provide feedback to student-athletes through video camera recordings of everything, from a practice session to an athlete’s individual workout series. Student-athletes will also have the Christian McCreary Nutrition Center, which will provide them with pre and post-workout snacks based on their individual needs.
“We took a group of folks to all of the very best, we thought, of the college facilities, but most specifically on the NBA side, and we said that ‘technology, analytics and biometrics, they are driving [the sports]. How do you take someone that is good and turn them into great?’” Shah said. “So, much of it is in kind of how [athletes] grow, their bodies [develop] and all of these things that are happening at the very next level.”
The addition of the Sutton Sports Performance Center and the Shah Basketball Complex are only the latest in a series of investments in athletics facilities that have been ongoing on campus, including the opening of the McCreary Field House (2016), renovation of the Reynolds Gym (2017) and new video boards for both the LJVM Coliseum and Spry Stadium (2017-2018).
“We have a number of projects, and this is my first year, so I’m evaluating all of our needs and looking at a master plan of sorts. There are some short-term needs we have in the Miller Center, which is now 20 years old, to upgrade our basketball rooms and our academic support service for student athletes,” said Wake Forest Director of Athletics John Currie. “We need to look more closely at [the LJVM] in the future, of how we will renovate and upgrade it and then some other things. But, generally speaking, Wake Forest is in great shape from an athletics facility-standpoint.”
Sutton seems to share the view of Currie, and less than a few minutes into the ribbon-cutting ceremony, he already promised another round of athletics advancements for the near future.
“We still have work to do, but this [the addition of the newest building on campus] brings us up to the top of the ACC or the SEC. I’m excited for our student athletes mostly, but for our coaches to have facilities that are on par with Alabama’s, Florida’s, Texas’ or Tennessee’s, to really kind of be one of the benchmark programs in the country now really is a game changer for Wake [Forest],” Sutton said. “But there are other great projects on the drawing board. So, look for lots of announcements over the next two to five years.”