- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- A rebuilding effort is underway at Miami in the most literal sense.
Ira Stanley, director of facilities at Miami, took me on a tour of the $16 million upgrade to Miami’s athletic facilities, including a new stink-free football locker room. That’s right, stink-free – there is a “shoe drying room” adjacent to the new locker room that is specially ventilated to dry wet shoes and shoulder pads after practice. Maybe that’s just a highlight a visitor would notice more, but there are plenty of perks in the new 30,000 square-foot addition, including a bigger, better academic center, a “gallery of champions” to display national championship trophies, an expanded training facility, a new hydrotherapy pool and an overall upgrade to Miami’s old-school building.
Construction on the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence began in December 2011, and the finishing touches are being put on the locker room and academic center. They should be ready for use before spring practices are over, but the expanded training room and new pools will be done closer to August.
There is one very important detail in Miami’s new locker room -- the U is on the ceiling.
In the current locker room, the logo is on a giant carpet, and woe be to he who steps on it. It’s a tradition -- a sign of respect -- not to walk on the U. This won’t be a problem in the new locker room, which also features shoulder pad racks on each of the 115 lockers and outlets for each locker so the players can charge their phones. The locker room is shaped in a half-moon, so if Al Golden is standing under the U, he can see every one of his players as he’s talking, unlike in the old locker room, which has blind spots.
A few more highlights:
The new academic center has two 10-student classrooms, a conference room that overlooks the practice field, a lounge area for study groups, and two 20-person classrooms, along with a 117-seat auditorium.
There is a players’ lounge adjacent to the locker room that has four LED TV screens, and a kitchenette for snacks.
The hydrotherapy pools will include two thermal pools and two cold plunge pools, in addition to one larger pool that can adjust its depth to suit players’ rehab needs.
Overall, there’s no question Miami is getting an upgrade compared to its current facilities. The next step is an upgrade in the standings.
Below are a few photos I took while on the tour.