The opening of the new Student-Athlete High Performance Center elevates Northern Arizona University’s offerings to all current and future Lumberjack student-athletes. University leaders, local dignitaries, past and current Lumberjacks, and community members gathered to celebrate the grand opening on April 22, 2022. DLR Group designed the facility, which was built by CORE Construction.

The new 72,000 SF, $46 million training center is located on South San Francisco Street, east of J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome, an indoor multipurpose stadium utilized by various Lumberjack programs. Nestled into a hillside filled with ponderosa pines and views of Humphreys Peak, the center substantially increases academic, weight training, recovery, and nutrition space available to Lumberjack student-athletes. It also is the first NAU athletics facility partially funded through alumni and former student-athlete contributions.

Entering the building is an experience all its own. Visitors cross a 140-foot walking bridge that begins at the base of the tree line and elevates 20 feet to canopy level of the old growth trees before reaching the entry, which allowed DLR Group to leave the site as untouched as possible. Once inside, patrons are immersed in the Grand Hall where championships are celebrated and memorabilia is displayed to capture the essence of the Lumberjacks.

“Our design embodies the NAU Lumberjack brand and reinforces NAU’s culture as an institution and a championship-caliber athletics program,” said DLR Group Sports Design Leader Andrew Kelly. “The iconic Parsons Family Auditorium undeniably features one of the best views of any training facility in the country, sitting above the tree line with a 60’ x 40’ glass wall that frames unobstructed views of the 12,600 ft Humphreys Peak and the San Francisco Range.”

Other features of the Student-Athlete High Performance Center include the country’s largest high-altitude training chamber on a collegiate campus. It can simulate atmospheric conditions ranging from sea level to 12,000 feet, allowing student-athletes to train at higher elevations and recover faster at sea level. The Scott and Franci Free Academic Center increases dedicated academic space from 700 SF to more than 7,000 SF and offers individual study areas, three classrooms, a computer lab, and academic staff offices. The Jennifer Marie Wilson Strength and Conditioning Center more than doubles the size of the Lumberjacks’ weight training area to 11,500 SF, while the Michael E. Nesbitt Athletic Training Center features three hydrotherapy recovery pools. NAU athletics programs are also partnering with the University’s College of Health and Human Services to conduct real-time research on student-athletes in the Sims-Treharne Collaborative Research Lab.

“CORE truly enjoyed the opportunity to partner with DLR Group in constructing this state-of-the-art facility for NAU Athletics, which will draw and serve student athletes who are national leaders in collegiate competition,” said CORE’s Director of Higher Education Emerson Ward. “In the execution of the High-Performance Center project, our team was inspired by the energy that NAU Athletics and the student athletes bring to the ‘field’ every day, and we are excited to see this new facility help the Lumberjacks excel to new heights.”