Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Taking stock: Big East facilities
By Andrea Adelson
The four Big East members set to join in 2013 have several football facilities projects that are either underway, planned or recently completed. Let's check and see what is in the works:
Houston just broke ground on a new $105 million football stadium to replace Robertson Stadium, and is set to open in time for the 2014 season. The 40,000-seat stadium, designed to showcase the Houston skyline, will feature a synthetic field, along with a club area, suits, family fun zone, state-of-the-art locker room and high-definition video screens.
Before the start of last season, several improvements were made to its athletic complex. Chief among them: Former Tiger running back DeAngelo Williams donated money to upgrade the locker room (also named after him). The Liberty Bowl is undergoing a $12 million renovation to bring the stadium into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Before last season, a new video board and scoreboard were added to the stadium; new lighting was added along with a new synthetic playing field, and improvements were made to concession stands and infrastructure.
The school recently announced another round of upgrades to Ford Stadium, adding a new 233-seat Hall of Champions Club and seven new suites in time for its inaugural season in the Big East. These new upgrades come following nearly $3 million in stadium improvements before the 2011 season, including upgrades to the football locker room and team meeting rooms as well as a new playing surface.
In 2010, the school announced $70 million worth of athletics construction on campus over a 10-year period. In the plans: a 12,000 square-foot addition to the Wayne Densch Sports Center, which houses football operations, the main weight room and athletic training center. Among the upgrades planned: an expanded football locker room with a student-athlete lounge area and a bigger weight room.
Let's not forget about remaining Big East members.
Cincinnati has the biggest facilities upgrade planned, recently announcing it will upgrade and expand Nippert Stadium. Though there is no timetable set for the start of construction, athletic director Whit Babcock estimated the renovation will cost $60-70 million with the main focus on adding premium seating -- suites, club level and loge.
Temple just completed a $10 million upgrade to its football facility last summer. The strength and conditioning area was expanded from 2,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet. The sports medicine office also was expanded, and a full-service academic support area and and a 3,500-square-foot team function room were added.
In 2011, USF opened a $4 million football practice complex, complete with three full-sized fields (two grass, one synthetic) and 2,500-square foot storage building, located just behind the Lee Roy Selmon athletics center.
Late addition, but it no way overlooked: UConn. Initially, I did not list the Huskies because their last upgrades were completed in 2006. But those upgrades have made them one of the shining examples in both the old and new Big East. I ranked them No. 2 overall last year among Big East facilities. Their big investment was made in the early 2000s, with $130 million in upgrades to their stadium ($92 million) and on-campus facilities ($40 million).