April 9, 2009
ATLANTA – With an eye toward helping Georgia Tech’s basketball teams with their practice scheduling and provide better resources for skill development, the Institute broke ground Thursday on a 20,000-square-foot basketball practice facility which will be called the Zelnak Center.
Spurred by a lead gift from Steve and Judy Zelnak, the facility will be built at a cost of $5 million and be open in time for the beginning of pre-season practice in October. Zelnak is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Martin Marietta Materials in Raleigh, N.C., and a current member of the Georgia Tech Advisory Board.
“They really made a case about the difficulty they were having trying to schedule practices, the academic problems as well as the practice time problems,” said Zelnak, who graduated from Tech in 1969. “We wanted to do something more significant for Georgia Tech, and we decided that this was a place where we could make a difference. I’m delighted today that everyone is on board with this facility.”
The Zelnak Center will connect to the southeast side of Alexander Memorial Coliseum and include one full-size court with eight baskets, a 24-seat theater for video instruction and a 2,500-square-foot weight room. Heery International is the architect for the project, and Gay Construction Company of Atlanta is the contractor.
“I really appreciate this facility coming to fruition,” said men’s head coach Paul Hewitt, who has guided the Jackets to three NCAA Tournaments and one NIT berth. “This practice facility is going to help us in so many ways, primarily academically, because we won’t have to schedule practice times at so many odd hours. I’m sure our guys won’t mind not having those 5:30 a.m. practices. I can’t begin to tell you how much it will help our players in skill development, and also in terms of recruiting, being able to bring players and parents in to see how this facility can help them develop.”
“First and foremost, this facility will really help our student-athletes,” said women’s head coach MaChelle Joseph, whose team has played in the NCAA Tournament each of the past three years. “We’re going to do a lot of things and have a lot of flexibility. The thing we’re most excited about is that our weight room will be under the same roof. We can have practice, we can lift weights, we can watch film, and everything will be more convenient.”