LOS ANGELES -- Alumni and boosters came out in droves Wednesday to USC's John McKay Center groundbreaking as university officials commemorated the start of an 18-month project to build a new state-of-the-art athletic facility.
The $70 million McKay Center, to be built in between current athletic headquarters Heritage Hall and football practice field Howard Jones Field, is expected to be completed July 2012, meaning the Trojans should go only one more season with a subpar facility. Features are expected to include an indoor football field and digital media production area, with the facility as a whole measuring 110,00 square feet.
University president Max Nikias gave a lengthy address to those in attendance at Wednesday's event before introducing athletic director Pat Haden. Both men expressed extreme positivity that the facility was finally getting started at USC -- Haden later went as far as saying that his accepting the athletic director position at USC was contingent on the facility getting underway soon after his arrival.
"It's way bigger than the football program," head football coach Lane Kiffin said after the ceremony concluded. "Obviously it's an all-sports complex. To be able to have everything that we need now to succeed at the highest level -- the one thing that we faced in recruiting over the years, the one negative, was our facilities compared to other places around the country. Now we don't have to face it anymore. For our president, for our athletic director, it's just a great day."
Kiffin also called the timing of the announcement "very critical." With National Signing Day approaching next month, many recruits from all across the nation will be officially visiting USC this weekend. The coach noted that they'll see real progress on a new facility.
“It’s so valuable for this to happen at this time right now," Kiffin said. "I think this is a time people, maybe outside the Trojan family, would think well, USC’s not going to be building something bigger and better right now, or their donors may be scared to put up the funds to do something like this. In the midst of all this other stuff that has happened over the last year here, I think this is a very, very powerful message about the future of SC.”
Haden said the project is about 60 percent funded at this time.
Kiffin also talked to the media about the current state of USC's recruiting schedule in advance of next month's Signing Day. See what he had to say: