Benedictine University had a vision more than 30 years ago of helping students athletes develop academically, athletically as well as socially. In 2010 that vision would be extended with the help of the Dan and Ida Rice Foundation. The foundation granted the University $500,000 in two equal installments. This grant was awarded in two installments, one in December 2010 and the other in December 2011. Benedictine was challenged by the foundation to raise an additional $1 million to assist the renovation project. The Rice Center houses classrooms, coaches offices, a weight room, fitness center, locker rooms indoor track and field facilities, a batting cage and the Trophy room. Renovations began in the fall of 2009 and included the installation of a new hardwood floor, giant state-of-the art scoreboards and island baskets in the basketball/volleyball arena and the installation of a new 1,700 seat bleacher system. Also part of the renovations were a 7,500 square foot cardio and circuit training area, a 5,200 square foot strength training area, a yoga/pilates studio and a conference center, reception area, and the "Dan and Ada Rice Legends Center", which contains the Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Department of Campus Planning, Design and Construction Management worked together on this $6.7 million renovation with partners DLR Group and International Contractors Inc. (ICI). This collaboration yielded great success, as the University was named a runner-up for the Chicago Building Congress's 2013 Merit Award in the "Best Rehab Construction" category at the organization's annual awards program, where four projects were selected. Projects are judged on distinctiveness, functionality or innovation of design, quality of construction, impact on the community and safety record.
The Dan and Ada Rice Center renovation project was one of the most needed and enthusiastically-greeted capital projects the University has undertaken. The latest phase of the Rice Center renovation was the construction of a 4,100-square foot football locker facility.
The football team whose ranks have swelled from 50 student-athletes less than 10 years ago to more than 100 in recent years, has never enjoyed a dedicated locker facility. The existing locker rooms in the Rice Center could not accommodate the numbers that the program's success has generated.
The new facility, which is located off the west side façade of the building, and was used primarily for storage for the past ten years, features 130 hardwood lockers, a chalk-talk" multi media area, a "Champions Room" to honor past Benedictine greats, and a new team showering facility.
The Rice Golf Center occupies the former weight room area on the mezzanine level of the Rice Center and contains interactive golf simulators complete with 12-foot wide screens, and two 360-degree systems of infrared beams that provide exact and immediate ball-flight statistics with live and fluid 3-D environments and multiple camera angles.
Both the $1.7 million Borsellino Football Locker Facility project and the $600,000 state-of-the-art Rice Golf Center were completed in August of 2012 and are examples of how Benedictine University, a Division III school, is committed to its student athletes.