Once upon a time, college athletes got by with a few dumbbells, a medicine ball, and some of those vibrating belts. Today, with sports dollars up to their eyeballs and stadiums as high-tech as they can get for the immediate future, colleges are turning their attention toward crafting some sweet pads in which student athletes may kick it. These multi-million dollar athletic buildings become recruiting tools in their own right, for good reason. These 10 are some of the most impressive in the country.
- The John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes, University of Oregon:
Architecturally and aesthetically, the Jaqua Center is in a class by itself. Funded by Nike exec Phil Knight for the astronomical (and controversial) amount of $41.7 million, the Center is a design masterpiece. From the futuristic metal and glass construction on the exterior to the white oak floors, multi-colored lighting, and laser-etched names dotting the interior, “impressive” is putting it mildly. Other highlights scattered throughout the building include underwater treadmills, cold-and-hot tubs, a waterfall, a juice bar, a lecture hall with 114 leather chairs each individually wired for power and Internet, and lockers reportedly valued at $26,000 apiece.
- Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility, University of Alabama:
The Crimson Tide has been one of the best football programs in the country in recent years, and it has an athletic facility to match. Named for former Alabama player and current AD, the Mal M. Moore building has been renovated twice in the last decade to incorporate accoutrements like granite floors and mahogany paneling in the Hall of Champions, and leather recliners and pool and ping pong tables in the football players’ lounge. Rehabilitation pools accompany the 20,000-square-foot strength and conditioning center. From the plush head coach’s suite, Nick Saban overlooks it all.
- Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Ohio State:
A recent $20 million restoration project has reaffirmed OSU as having one of the most impressive athletic buildings in America. The locker rooms, medical treatment areas, equipment room, and strength training area all got updates. The latter is now a 13,000-square-foot gym. The place has hydrotherapy pools, a racquetball court, and an indoor practice football field. There is also this stunning view of the northeast entrance to the Les Wexner Football Complex, where visitors can view the Championship Wall and wall of NFL teams with Buckeye representation on them.
- Bright Football Complex, Texas A&M:
While the building is ostensibly for “student-athletes of all kinds,” football is king both here in the South and on the A&M campus. Conveniently located at the south end of Kyle Field, the Bright building is a 125,000-square-foot, $27 million beauty. More than 130 solid oak lockers populate the 6,500-square-foot locker room. Players can kick back in the players’ lounge, complete with pool tables, flat screens, and leather couches. And when it comes time to train, there’s 15,000 square feet worth of gym equipment to get athletes into fightin’ Texas Aggie shape.
- Football Operations Center, Louisiana State:
There’s no other way to say it: this place is slick. The $15 million Football Operations Center comprises a climate-controlled, SportExe-turfed indoor football field; a 54,000-square-foot academic center complete with 1,000-seat auditorium; spacious coaches’ and player meeting rooms; the “Captain’s Lounge” with 72-inch TV; a 23,000-square-foot athletic training center with X-ray room and hydrotherapy pools; and more. In the lobby, just past the life-size Bengal Tiger statue standing guard outside, LSU’s spoils of victory like Billy Cannon’s Heisman and the 2003 BCS Coaches’ Trophy are proudly displayed as proof that LSU’s commitment to athletics has paid big dividends.
- Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex, Nebraska:
The Cornhuskers spared no expense updating this athletic building, which now boasts some of the finest facilities in the country. A 40-foot waterfall starts things off right in the lobby. Football players get inspiration in the Major Trophy Winners Hallway on their way to the state-of-the-art Ndamukong Suh Strength and Conditioning Center or the swanky locker room, where each player’s solid maple locker is equipped with an iPad. During down time you’ll find them playing ping pong or pool in the red-themed Players’ Lounge. A quick jog through the skybridge takes them to the Hawks Championship Indoor Center, and at game time it’s a run down the red carpet and out onto the field of Memorial Stadium.
- James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Complex, University of Florida:
Coach Urban Meyer fought for a top-flight facility to help Gator recruiting, and though he’s now gone, this fantastic, $28 million building remains. Granite pavers and stainless steel plaques honor former players on the approach to the building, and a 15-foot bronze gator reminds passersby what campus they’re on. The blue and orange of the Hall of Champions in the two-story lobby reinforce that thought. Next door, recruits are schmoozed in the comfortable Gator Room. The 25,000-square-foot weight room boasts a 50-yard turf area and basically a machine for strengthening every muscle in the human body. There are even two stations for players to take 360-degree video of themselves, which they can then review on high-def TVs to perfect their form.
- Guglielmino Athletics Complex, Notre Dame:
A shiny, metallic athletic building would look out of place among the Gothic architecture of Notre Dame’s campus, but with its beautiful brick facade with white trim, the stately Guglielmino Athletics Complex fits right in. From the balcony of the Morse Recruiting Lounge with its vaulted ceilings, students have an excellent view of a two-story mural by the entrance. But “The Gug” is equally impressive in function as in form. The 96,000 square feet contain a 25,000-square-foot fitness center, the Loftus Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center with exercise pools and underwater treadmill, and a 45-yard indoor practice turf with accompanying 50-yard track.
- Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center, University of Southern Florida:
As of May 2004, USF student athletes have been training, studying, eating, and relaxing in style in this $15 million building. The architecture impresses with its curved, multi-tiered green roof and 104,000 square foot size. Inside there are 10,000 square feet of strength and condition equipment for strengthening muscles, and an Academic Enrichment Center for strengthening minds. USF ups the ante on underwater tech in its pools, equipping its Hydroworx 1000 pool with not just a treadmill but a computer monitoring system with computer control console. Soon a Hall of Fame will be completed, which the Bulls sports teams are hoping to begin filling in the coming years.
- Arthur B. Edge Intercollegiate Athletics Center, Georgia Tech:
Georgia Tech is thought by many to have the nation’s best all-around athletic facilities, and the Arthur B. Edge building plays a big factor in that accolade. Attached to Bobby Dodd Stadium, the 65,000-square-foot center impresses from the first step inside, as a glass atrium towers several stories above the lobby. Visitors can view the “Circle of Champions” display there or proceed to the George W. Mathews Jr. Athletic Heritage Center to see more school history, including a movie theater for highlight films. In addition to the training facilities for the athletes, Edge also houses a conference center, a large academic area, a dining hall, and a meditation room.