Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, January 22, 2010

New wrestling facility named in recognition of letter winner Ralph Bahna

In recognition of former U-M wrestler Ralph Bahna and his wife, Dorothy, the Board of Regents on Thursday formally designated the Wolverines’ new state-of-the-art wrestling facility as the Bahna Wrestling Center.

“Ralph and Dorothy Bahna are both proud graduates of the University of Michigan and have been long-time fans and supporters of the Michigan wrestling program,” says Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bill Martin. “We are proud to name our new state-of-the-art wrestling center in their honor. It is a fitting tribute to their incredible generosity and commitment to Michigan’s outstanding athletic tradition.”

Opened in early January, the new 18,000-square-foot facility on South State Street houses comprehensive training and support facilities for the Wolverine wrestling program, including 7,500 square feet of mat space, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, an athletic training room with a separate hydrotherapy room and a second-floor strength-and-conditioning area. The facility is one of only two standalone collegiate wrestling training centers in the country.

A three-year Wolverine letter winner, Bahna was a member of two Big Ten Championship squads under legendary coach Cliff Keen. He captured the Big Ten 123-pound title as a senior in 1964.

Bahna currently is chairman of Priceline.com and the chairman and founder of Club Quarters, a new chain of private hotels in big city centers. He previously served as president and chief executive of Cunard Lines Ltd. During his leadership, Cunard transitioned from a standout shipping company to a modern-day cruise operator. He was named “The Cruise Industry Leader of the Decade” in 1990 by Travel Trade magazine and became the first chairman of a unified international cruise line organization, Cruise Lines International Association.

“Michigan wrestling will be forever grateful to Ralph,” says head coach Joe McFarland, “and we are so excited to see his family’s name put on the new facility. The University of Michigan and Michigan wrestling have meant so much to Ralph — not only while he was here as a student-athlete but in the years that followed — so we really relish this opportunity to recognize him and the tremendous support he has provided us over the years.”

The Bahnas provided the lead gift to build the Michigan wrestling center. It is the single largest donation from a former varsity letter winner to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. The project also was funded privately from athletic department gifts and resources. In all, about 20 individuals and groups made donations.