HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – Western Kentucky University and WKU athletics celebrated the groundbreaking of two new amenities on Friday.

WKU states officials broke ground on the Hilltopper Fieldhouse and new football press box at the site of the new fieldhouse.

Officials state construction on the fieldhouse is expected to officially begin later this year with a projected completion in late 2025. The press box construction will begin in December and is expected to be ready for kickoff in 2024.

“Today, we gather not only to witness the beginning of construction, but to celebrate the culmination of a shared vision, unparalleled determination, and unwavering commitment to the pursuit of excellence,” WKU President Timothy C. Caboni said. “The WKU Indoor Fieldhouse represents the embodiment of our commitment to provide our students with opportunities for growth, achievement, and success.

“This state-of-the-art facility will serve as a hub of innovation and collaboration, uniting four diverse and dynamic aspects of our campus life – athletics, forensics, Esports, and the Big Red Marching Band. It will be a place in which dreams are realized, skills are honed, and competitive passions are ignited. … Beyond its functional enhancements to these programs, this building represents our dedication to a sense of community and togetherness, providing a place for our students to form friendships and celebrate victories. 

Caboni also gave comments on the construction of the new press box.

“Our current press facilities are beyond their useful life, and replacing them with a new press box, situated atop the Harbaugh Club, will provide the amenities that members of the media experience at other stadiums and will demonstrate the brand of Hilltopper hospitality we strive to offer all our guests.”

Officials state the Hilltopper Fieldhouse will be home to the WKU Forensics and Esports programs, as well as provide practice and training space for the Big Red Marching Band and Hilltopper Athletics. The facility will be built upon the land that currently is home to the football practice field, in between Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium and Nick Denes Field.

Officials also state the press box will serve as a first-class home for media coverage of Hilltopper Football games. Situated above the existing Harbaugh Club, the press box will house the television broadcast, radio booths, coaches’ booths, working press and game operations. Premium suites will also be in the new facility.

“We have invested more into student-athlete specific areas over the last five years than ever before, greatly enhancing the areas of sports medicine, mental health, strength/conditioning, nutrition, academic advising, career development, NIL, and cost of attendance,” WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said. “In the last 10 years alone, we have invested close to $15 million into our facilities and will have made nearly $60 million in total upgrades, improvements, and additions by the time the Hilltopper Fieldhouse is complete in 2025. At that point, we will be in the best position from an athletics facilities standpoint in the history of our university.”

“Today’s groundbreaking marks a new chapter in the rich history of our beloved institution – one that reflects dedication to learning, a spirit of community, and a belief in the limitless potential of our students,” Caboni said.