Archive | August, 2013

Is Oregon’s Football Performance Center the world’s finest athletic facility?

Don’t let the imported Italian marble and furniture, Portuguese slate floors, black glass and Ferrari leather chairs fool you.

The University of Oregon’s new Football Performance Center may have lavish design elements similar to the world’s finest palaces, but this facility was built for one purpose – winning.

Phil Knight, founder of Nike and the Center’s chief financier, knows a thing or two about winning. His wife, Penny, evidentially knows a little something about interior decorating. No one will confirm the estimated $68 million price tag, but the attention to detail is unmatched.

War Room

Is this the White House war room?

From architectural designs down to the bathroom faucets, the couple spared no expense with the 145,000-square-foot Performance Center. The Ducks coaching staff, however, would prefer that we focus on the ‘Performance’ in the facility’s name. That’s easier said than done.

The six-story facility built alongside Autzen Stadium and overlooking the team’s practice field was designed to be both functional and efficient for coaches and player that spend countless hours there. To increase ease of access and convenience, building designers considered how rooms flow from one to another.

Among the Center’s list of high-tech amenities and creature comforts, include: vented odor-reducing lockers, a cafeteria, a players lounge with big screen TVs, a coaching staff war room, a sprawling weight room, a medical treatment facility, two auditoriums, underground parking and even a barbershop. The thoughtfully placed ‘O’ logos, the fighting duck mascot and the school’s green and yellow colors – all reminders you are a long way from Corvallis.

Oregon Players Lounge

Oregon’s facilities and uniforms have wowed recruits for the past decade, but the new Oregon Performance Center put the Ducks over the top. I know how Husky and Beaver fans will answer the headline: F#@! no! But talk to the top recruits who visit Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame, Texas or the new Husky Stadium. Even those that may not ultimately choose the Ducks will tell you Oregon’s are best.

Professional teams around the world now have something to compare against, but that was not Phil Knight’s intention.  He built the Football Performance Center to help the Ducks football program continue to compete with the nation’s elite programs. He also built it to help the school continue to blow away recruits. By all accounts – mission accomplished.

Is this the world’s best athletic facility? Make your case below in the comments.
Weight Room

Photo Credit: University of Oregon Athletics

U. of Arizona Unveils Stadium Expansion and Football-only Facility

The preseason crawl of college football stadium construction projects travels to Tucson where earlier this month the University of Arizona opened the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility at Arizona Stadium.  Built for $72.3 million with private donations from David and Edith Lowell and Jeff and Sharon Stevens, the new integrated stadium complex helps the Rich Rodriguez-led football program join the all-out Pac-12 facilities throwdown to impress recruits. Thank you, Phil Knight.

Similar to projects at Mississippi State and Kansas State, consider the Arizona Stadium expansion a partial upgrade rather than a tear-down, do-over remodel. The modern four-story Lowell-Stevens Facility permanently encloses the north end zone and adds 4,200 seats to boost capacity over 56,000. Inside Lowell-Stevens, the site offers first-class amenities, including: a private club area (the Sands Club), a welcome center, locker rooms, a 4,500-square foot weight room, advanced medical facilities and direct walking access onto the field.

These facility upgrades send a strong message of commitment to alumni, but  they’re also expected by top recruits. For Arizona, projected to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12 South, they might need all the help they can get this season to impress recruits and give fans reason to combat the heat.

Check out the zoomable camera at the Lowell-Steven facility web page. Also, I found two Arizona Athletic Department videos below: the first a recap of the grand opening and the latter an earlier look at the construction site with Coach Rodriguez as your tour guide.

Videos and Photo Credit: University of Arizona

Kansas State finalizes football stadium upgrade just in time

Kansas State University officials breathed a giant sigh of relief today after concluding a $75 million expansion to Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas one week ahead of their home football opener with North Dakota State.

For many fans, returning to a favorite sports stadium after an off-season away is like reconnecting with an old friend. For Wildcat fans returning to Snyder Stadium, it’ll be more like reconnecting with an old friend who got a world-class facelift during the off-season – but only on one side of their face.

Completed in just over a year, the University flattened and remodeled the stadium’s West Stands. Named the West Stadium Center, the update added a new concourse, fan store, press box, private suites, a 15,000-square foot private lounge, a team Hall of Honor and a tailgate terrace to help fans enjoy a nice view while they get their drink on.

Below are two project videos, including the latest construction video and a concept video. With the project now complete, it’s just a matter a time before the final project tour video posts and I’ll update this post when they do.

Photo and video credit: Kansas State Athletics

Houston Texans: Our scoreboard is bigger

The NFL Houston Texans powered-up two new HD video scoreboards last Friday at Reliant Stadium, which combined create the largest video board ever installed in a sports stadium. The scoreboards cover 14,549 square feet, or over 100 feet wider than the Dallas Cowboys’ LED monstrosity suspended over the field in AT&T Stadium.

Installed with the help of $16 million from taxpayers, the mammoth scoreboards demonstrate how far teams will go to thrill their fans, leapfrog NFL peers and improve chances to host a Super Bowl. While the scoreboards are larger than those planned for the San Francisco 49ers new home, Levi’s Stadium, Houston won’t retain bragging rights for long. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Everbank Field will display a more gigantic scoreboard in 2014.

Of course, the Cowboys aren’t concerned about a scoreboard bigger than their own that happens to be in Texas too. Actually, I’m sure Jerry Jones won’t stand for this personal assault.

Photo credit: Houston Texans

Mississippi State’s $75M Stadium Upgrade

On September 7, the SEC’s Mississippi State Bulldogs return to Davis Wade Stadium for their home football opener against Alcorn State, but the University’s ongoing $75 million expansion project won’t inconvenience their 55,000+ cowbell-ringing fans one bit.

Scheduled for completion before the 2014 season, Davis Wade’s new north end zone adds approximately 8,815 new seats to the second oldest on-campus stadium in Division I-A. The project’s most notable additions: a new plaza near the famous Junction, an updated west concourse, a large HD video scoreboard, and premium areas for season ticket holders and alumni with field level viewing.

Trivia question – What’s the only on-campus Division I-A stadium older than Davis Wade Stadium?  Leave a comment below.

Although much work remains on the project, the west concourse, elevators and restrooms will open in time for this season’s opener. In the first video below, Mississippi State Athletic Director Scott Stricklin tours the construction zone to explain how the new West concourse is both wider and actually level now. Fun! The second offers and overview of the project. Take a look at the videos below and visit the University’s project web site.