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EDINBURG — UTRGV is in the process of building an NCAA Division I college football program, and on Tuesday hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Vaqueros Performance Center — a 45,000-plus-square-foot athletic facility that will house the UTRGV football team.

The Vaqueros Performance Center, which is being constructed north of the UTRGV Baseball Stadium in Edinburg, will be used by multiple sports and is expected to be complete by fall 2025, in time for UTRGV football to kick off its inaugural college football season in late August 2025.

“What a really significant and special day that we’re celebrating here as we take another step in our journey of starting Division I college football here in the Rio Grande Valley,” UTRGV athletic director Chasse Conque said. “This is one of the crown jewels of our projects, and the neat thing about the Vaqueros Performance Center is that it’s going to have an impact on all of our student-athletes. It’s another milestone day and exciting to watch the process, but also ready to move into this thing come 2025.”

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vice President and Director of Athletics, Chasse Conque, speaks during a groundbreaking for the Vaqueros Performance Center on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

The Vaqueros Performance Center will include two practice fields — one of natural grass and one of synthetic turf — with completion expected by the summer of 2024. The VPC also will feature a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning facility, an academic support center, a football locker room, football coaches’ offices, a sports medicine facility, a team room with stadium-style seating and multiple meeting rooms.

“The VPC is going to give us the best possible environment to train our student-athletes to succeed on and off the field,” UTRGV head football coach Travis Bush said. “We’re about to sign our first recruiting class in history, and the biggest thing right now that’s helping us recruit top talent is knowing this facility is on the way. It’s going to help recruiting, not only for football but for all sports, and elevate the overall experience for athletics. We’re about to build a facility that’s easily going to be the best in the United Athletic Conference and one of the best in the nation in Division I FCS. … It’s a great time to be a part of UTRGV Athletics.”

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley head football coach Travis Bush, left, and UTRGV President Guy Bailey, converse during a groundbreaking for the Vaqueros Performance Center on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

UTRGV football will sign its first recruiting class this winter and plans to conduct a practice season in fall 2024 before officially beginning competition at the Division I level in fall 2025. Bush also continues to build the first coaching staff in program history, which currently features offensive line coach Jeff Bowen, defensive coordinator Brian Gamble, defensive backs coach Adrian McDonald, assistant coach Nate Langford and assistant coach Marco Regalado, along with John Simmons, director of football operations and administration.

“We’ll have student-athletes on campus in August (2024), so those practice fields will be ready to go, our student-athletes will be able to utilize those during the practice year in fall of 2024,” Conque said. “We have portable buildings for our offices, that’s where our coaches will continue to live for the next two years, and then we’re building what we’re calling an athletics pavilion and that will be the short-term home for our student-athletes for that practice year, and then we’ll be able to use that space for other things as we expand athletics. That’s our plan for the next two years, and hopefully by June of 2025, we’ll be able to move into the Vaqueros Performance Center.”

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley football coaches pose during a groundbreaking for the Vaqueros Performance Center on the UTRGV campus on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Construction of the Vaqueros Performance Center will cost an estimated $45 million and is part of more than $85 million in construction projects being completed by UTRGV Athletics to all athletic facilities during the next few years. The projects will be funded by revenue generated by the athletics department through ticket sales, sponsorships and fundraising, as state law forbids UTRGV to use tuition revenue to build or renovate athletic facilities.

“This day is an accomplishment not only for the university, not just for athletics, but for the entire Rio Grande Valley community. What we’re doing here today is all of us. Thank you for everything you’ve done,” UTRGV president Guy Bailey said.