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Plans for a new Utah men's and women's basketball facility have been talked about for years.

Now, it's for real.

The Utah athletic department kicked off fundraising efforts Monday for what will become the Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Center. Major donors and media were invited to a news conference to view renderings of the new practice facility, which will sit on the north side of the Huntsman Center, adjacent to the new student life center currently under construction.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for this spring, with completion targeted for autumn 2015.

"We're aiming to have the nicest facility in the Pac-12," Jon M. Huntsman Sr. said. "We want to have the best facility in America. We're excited about the Runnin' Utes for many, many years, and we think that we have the best coach in the country leading this charge."

The new facility will cost $24 million. Another $12 million has been targeted for Hunstman Center renovations — including a new scoreboard, the construction of suites and an overall reduction of seating capacity from the current 15,000. A larger overhaul of the 43-year-old arena could happen further down the road.

Utah athletic director Chris Hill said half of the new facility's cost will be generated through fundraising efforts.

If construction is completed on schedule, the new facility would be completed for the start of Jordan Loveridge's senior season and the rest of the 2012 recruiting class.

"It's a pretty amazing time here," Krystkowiak said. "It's going to be nice to have an opportunity to start breaking ground on this. I've seen the other 11 training facilities around the conference and there's no reason that we can't have the chance to really turn some heads. This is a special time because this is kind of a generational thing. You don't build something like this once every 20 years."

Much like the new football facility — which opened last summer — the basketball center should be a game-changer for the program. It will feature a weight room, strength and conditioning facilities, a 6,000-square-foot hall of fame and a 7,000-square-foot medicine center.

Ramping up recruiting for both the men's and women's programs is a big focus for the facility, as well as providing better resources for the current players. As of now, Utah is the only school in the Pac-12 without a basketball facility.

Hill said that's unacceptable.

"There's no reason for us not to be at the top of the league," Hill said. "There are only two schools who have gone to the NCAA Tournament more than us and that's UCLA and Arizona. We have a great tradition. Today was a start for our fundraising efforts and people are getting excited about it."

on twitter: @tjonessltrib —

New basketball center for U.

• Will be named the Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Center.

• Expected to cost $24 million.

• Scheduled to break ground in spring.

• Should be be finished in the fall of 2015. —

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