Ceremonial groundbreaking on The Jack and Kathy Shields Family Hall football complex April 20, 2024. (Photo: Joseph Weiser)

In 2018 Notre Dame completed the $400 million Crossroads project that transformed Notre Dame stadium into a state of the art 77,000 seat football palace. In 2020 ND made another huge investment, the cost of which has not been disclosed, and unveiled a massive indoor football practice facility known as the Irish Athletic Center (IAC).

Ground was ceremonially broken last Saturday morning a couple hours prior to the Blue-Gold Spring game, on what promises to be the next jewel in ND’s football facilities crown. A new Notre Dame football facility to be known as The Jack and Kathy Shields Family Hall with 150,000 square feet, will be roughly 50% bigger than the current football facility the Guglielmino Athletics Complex (“The Gug”). It will include cutting edge amenities and plenty of space to address the needs of the growing football staff and program.

The Gug was opened in 2005 and cost a reported $21 million to construct and at the time it was considered to be among the finest such complexes in the nation. In less than 20 years however, ND had fallen back in the big time football facilities race.

In recent years the football program had outgrown the Gug as the size of the football program’s support staff had increased and other football programs around the nation unveiled new such facilities full of cutting edge technology and amenities.

Notre Dame athletic department officials, reportedly toured the Clemson football facility last fall, prior to ND’s game against the Tigers. That facility, opened in 2017 and known as the Allen N. Reeves Football Complex and was built at a cost of $55 million. A price tag for the Notre Dame facility was not disclosed but is expected to exceed $100 million.

When complete, the new football complex will cover approximately 150,000 square feet. (University of Notre Dame Media Relations)

According to the press release the facility will include advanced training and sports medicine facilities, an equipment room with body scanning and fabrication technology and a player nutrition area “designed to foster community between teams and model healthy eating.” The ability to prepare meals on site was considered important. Currently meals are prepared elsewhere on campus and trucked in.

Academic support spaces, an expanded locker room, “media innovation spaces” including recording and photo studios, enhanced weight training facilities, a two level all-team auditorium and an augmented reality walkthrough room are also planned to be among the building’s amenities.

It is widely believed that one of the reasons Brian Kelly was able to be lured away to LSU in 2021 was because of his belief that ND lacked such a cutting edge football facility.

A group of five former football alumni including class of ’83 linebacker Jack Shields (whose name will be on the facility) were announced as having provided “generous support” for the project. The other four players named are former safety Pat Eilers, who starred on the 1988 national championship team, Pat Kramer who played defensive end in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Dave Butler a linebacker from 1983-’86 and Tom Carter, a cornerback from 1990-1992 who went on to play 9 years in the NFL. Notre Dame’s press release also cited, “other substantial donors who wish to remain anonymous”.

The present Gug will be renovated and in the future, utilized as a resource for all of Notre Dame’s athletic programs.

The new facility itself will be built just to the east of “the Gug” on land currently occupied by the campus tennis complex. Construction is scheduled to begin after the spring semester is complete. The complex should be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2026.

(University of Notre Dame Media Relations)

Besides retired athletic director Jack Swarbrick, new athletic director Peter Bevaqua and head football coach Marcus Freeman among those addressing the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony, was current ND All-American cornerback, Ben Morrison.

Morrison spoke of his own recruitment and the impression the then new Irish Athletics Center (IAC) had had on him.

“Facilities do matter”, Morrison told the crowd.

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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