As this winter illustrates, the need is long overdue. And the benefit to every Grizzly student-athlete, and others, may finally be recognized soon.

UM News Service reports that the University of Montana will break ground this month on the new on-campus, state-of-the-art indoor practice facility. The facility is intended for Griz athletes in every sport, and the "Grizzly Indoor Practice Facility" will also provide recreational opportunities to all UM students and members of the Missoula community.

While the project and its location have been overshadowed some by the construction of the new Montana Museum of Art and Culture right across the street, activity will commence on the $10.2 million indoor practice facility, on the south end of the River Bowl fields. The completely privately funded facility, means no student tuition or Montana taxpayer dollars are being spent on the project.

The Grizzly Indoor Practice Facility will be 110,000 square feet, covered with an inflatable roof, the first of its kind in the Big Sky Conference. Features include a regulation-size synthetic football field, four 150-yard sprint lanes for track athletes and two long-jump pits, two pole vault bars and a hammer, javelin, discus and shot-put area for field athletes. The facility also will house winter practices for Grizzly soccer and softball teams.

UM News Service also says that a permanent structure connected to the indoor practice facility will have a lobby, restrooms, storage rooms and mechanical space. Staging for the facility is about to start, then large-scale work will begin on April 17.

The estimated completion of the facility is fall 2023, so it's likely to cause some complications with parking for Grizzly football games, at least some if not all. With that in mind, the university reminds people that during construction, parking lots M and M-1 adjacent to the River Bowl fields will be partially closed off.

Grizzly Athletics will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the indoor practice facility in the near future.

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