Inside look at the U of M's new Athlete's Village

- Work on the University of Minnesota's new Athlete's Village is nearly 70 percent complete.

Fox 9 took a tour of the project designed to help student athletes be the best they can be.

From the two-story lobby that will eventually have nine projectors showing recruiting films, athlete bios and game highlights, to the identical practice facilities for both the men's and women's basketball teams, Athlete's Village is taking shape.

Construction crews are hard at work on the state-of-the-art facilities, like a new nutrition center and dining hall for the school's 750 student athletes, 34 offices for academic tutors and a leadership development center to help student athletes land a job after they graduate.

"I think it's a game changer for us," said Associate Athletics Director Scott Ellison. "It allows us to provide service to all areas of the student-athlete. Nutritionally, academically and athletically."

The most dramatic addition may be the new indoor practice facility for the Gopher football team.

It is 85 feet high, so the team can practice punting and kicking and has windows to let in natural light.

The new football performance center will also double the size of the team's weight room. It even has its own barbershop.

"We're actually catching up with all the other schools that we compete against," said Ellison. "This will put us at the top."

But some of the smallest details could have the biggest impact. The village is filled with special windows that operate like transition lenses, meaning the more light that comes through, the darker they get.

The lockers in the football locker room have lights that illuminate the silhouette of the Minneapolis skyline, a feature U of M officials say is the only one of its kind in the entire country.

"I'm looking forward to moving in in January and seeing the student-athletes using it and the coaches using it and bring recruits through the finished space," said Ellison. "I'm really looking forward to it."

In all, the three new buildings will be 360,000 square feet and cost $166 million. The U has raised about $105 million in private donations so far.

Construction is scheduled to wrap up in time for second semester in mid-January.

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