Initial construction will include an education and outreach center, facilities for the Texas A&M Equestrian team, a permanent cross country course in collaboration with Texas A&M Athletics, and new facilities for the Parsons Mounted Cavalry.
"The Texas A&M equestrian team is the gold standard when it comes to collegiate competition and this new Equine Complex will further enhance our program," said Aggie Athletics Director Eric Hyman. "We appreciate the cooperation with the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
"This facility will also give our men's and women's cross country teams a home for practice and competition."
Planning for the new center began in May 2012 when the Texas A&M Board of Regents approved negotiation of a ground lease with an anonymous donor that allowed for Phase I construction to begin. This cornerstone gift, combined with in-kind and other major gifts, bring support generated for Phase I construction to approximately $35 million.
"It will be great to have a course that is for cross country and is a true home course," noted Pat Henry, Texas A&M track and field head coach. "It was a tremendous occasion Tuesday morning when they broke ground.
"It was one of the finer things I've seen happen at Texas A&M. The people that endorse and got involved the whole equine center and everything associated with it, including the joint uses, and the way the facility is structured becomes a win-win for Texas A&M. I'm just thankful that they included us in the project."
In years past the Aggies would host a home cross country meet at the on-campus Texas A&M golf course and more recently they were held on the Penberthy Intramural Field Complex. With this new facility the Aggies will be able to host multiple home meets within a season as well as have numerous options for championship meets.
"We would love to have a couple of home cross country meets and include a high school division," said Henry. "Plus we would have some community runs. We will host the SEC Championships on this site and bid to host NCAA region and NCAA Championships here.
"So we will bring a lot of people to town who are actively running as well as people who watch their children run in a cross country meet."
The first championship caliber meet hosted on the new facility will likely occur the season it opens in the fall of 2014.
"In 2014 we plan to have at least one home meet and we will host the SEC Championships," said Henry. "We are supposed to host the SEC meet in 2013, but we've asked for a delay for one year so that we can host it on this new course."