Category Archives: Facilities
In the last five years, Boston College has secured its spot as home of one of the most dominant Division I hockey programs. In the last five years, the Eagles have won the Division I hockey championship three times. Their most recent win came last weekend, when Boston College defeated Ferris State 4-1.
How has this surge in the hockey team’s prowess benefited fundraising for development? Steve Novak is Boston College’s Assistant Athletics Director for Athletic Development. When asked whether the recent Division I hockey championship would boost donations, Novak provided the following insight:
“Our hockey program has achieved such heights over the years that one year or one championship does not necessarily influence overall giving in a noticeable way. However, I can certainly attest to the fact that the consistent performance and leadership under Jerry York has influenced any number of donors and/or gifts to BC Athletics. We have seen several gifts directed to hockey over the years to support scholarships or other expenses. Often, these donors cite the great pride they have when they root for BC Hockey.”
In an age in which football and basketball dominate the college athletics headlines–two sports which are present on Boston College’s campus–it speaks loudly to the talent of Boston College’s hockey team that a number of donors specifically direct funds to the hockey team’s development.
Given the hockey team’s frequent presence in the Frozen Four and national championship game in recent years, the question arises as to whether Boston College capitalizes upon the appearances as opportunities to fundraise. Novak indicated that Boston College, “do[es] a lot of stewardship around special events like Frozen Fours or bowl games. We have not chosen to do specific fundraisers. It is more of an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to those who helped us get to this point through their ongoing and past support.”
Along with funding scholarships for student-athletes, Novak and members of his athletics development staff fundraise to build new facilities or improve existing facilities. In 2007, Boston College opened the doors to the $27 million Yawkey Athletics Center. According to Novak, “This was the first building on campus to be 100% privately funded.” Going forward, Boston College will break ground soon on a baseball and softball complex on its Brighton Campus. Additionally, according to Novak, the athletics department “. . . also make[s] several facility improvements each year throughout our athletics facilities. These otherwise ‘small’ items add up to be significant expenses. However, it is extremely important to put our best foot forward. The aesthetic improvement over the last several years is noticeable. Athletics is certainly not the most important aspect of the University, but it often is the most visible.”
The success of its hockey team and the work of its athletics department and development staff in recent years gives Boston College fans much to cheer about.
In 1926, the starting quarterback and catcher of the University of Arizona’s football and baseball teams died as the result of injuries sustained in a car accident. Before passing away, John “Button” Salmon would whisper the words into the ears of Arizona football coach Pop McKale, which would come to be the school’s battle cry:
“Tell them. . . tell the team to bear down.“
In the 85 years since the young Salmon whispered the words which would become the battle cry of thousands of Wildcats, the University of Arizona has amassed a proud tradition of producing winning teams and successful student-athletes. Arizona’s 19 teams have won 20 NCAA Championships over the years and have produced 152 Olympians.
Recently, I had the great opportunity to visit the campus in sunny Tucson and take a tour of some of the school’s athletic facilities with Director of Athletics, Greg Byrne.
Joining the Wildcats in May, 2010, saying that Byrne has been an asset to the program since then, would be an understatement. In a place like Tucson, where the nearest professional sports team is located over 100 miles away, the Wildcats are viewed by residents as local celebrities of sorts. Byrne has the charisma and personality to make practical strangers feel like they have known him forever. During our two-hour tour, he genuinely greeted everyone he passed, shook hands often and answered every question asked of him. Every few feet we would walk, someone would say, “Hey Greg!” and most often, he’d respond with, “Hey! You o.k.?”
Byrne’s approachability and commitment to developing the University of Arizona’s athletics programs to the highest degree will help the University of Arizona chart a new level of success in athletics in upcoming years.
Our tour began outside of the McKale Memorial Center. Most notably, the McKale Memorial Center is home to the Lute and Bobbi Olson Court. Named after the former coach and his late wife, the Wildcats basketball teams plays their home games before a seating capacity of 14,545.
The McKale Center is also home to an academic area, sports medicine facilities, equipment operations and all of the athletic department’s offices.
Also present in the McKale Center is a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning facility, the Bill Estes, Jr. Family Strength and Conditioning Center. The expansive area is notably marked with University of Arizona logos and pictures of successful former student-athletes like Jenny Finch, Jim Furyk and Lorena Ochoa, to further bolster Wildcat pride amongst student-athletes.
The weight room in McKale is one of two weight rooms available to student-athletes. A second weight room, for use by the basketball team, is also located in the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium.
Richard Jefferson played basketball for the Wildcats from 1998 to 2001. Drafted by the Houston Rockets, Jefferson presently plays for the San Antonio Spurs. In 2007, Jefferson made what is believed to be the largest donation made by a professional athlete to his alma mater, when he donated $3.5 million dollars to build the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium.
The Richard Jefferson Gymnasium is home to the school’s basketball and volleyball practice facilities. It has two full-court basketball courts and five volleyball cross courts.
Overlooking the courts is a weight training and cardiovascular center specially designed to meet the size requirements of basketball players.
In other words, the treadmills have extended tracks and the weight training equipment is longer than that found in other weight training facilities.
As mentioned above, all of the athletic department’s offices are currently housed in the McKale Center. However, in 2013, Arizona’s football team will have new offices located in the brand new North End Zone facility in Arizona Stadium. Byrne explained that presently, Arizona’s football team is one of few BCS teams whose offices are located in a basketball facility.
The school recently commenced construction on the $72,300,00 North End Zone project, which has a scheduled date of completion of June 2013. The 183,683 square foot project will add football offices, a new football locker room and football strength and conditioning center. The addition of the North End Zone strength and conditioning center means that there will be an impressive three weight rooms for student-athletes to access at the University of Arizona. A sports medicine area for student-athletes and cafeteria open to all University of Arizona students will also be present in the North End Zone facility. The North End Zone facility will also be home to new concourses and loge and club level seating.
The seats in the new North End Zone will face the 5,356 foot video board, pictured above, which made its debut in Arizona Stadium in 2011 and is the largest video board in the state of Arizona.
The completion of the North End Zone facility in 2013 will further signal the vast improvements of Arizona’s programs and facilities which Byrne has spearheaded as Director of Athletics.
Most importantly, however, it will give University of Arizona student-athletes one more reason to bear down.
Sincere gratitude is owed to Greg Byrne for granting me a generous amount of time in his busy schedule and opening up the University of Arizona’s athletic facilities to me and BusinessofCollegeSports.com’s readers. A big thank you is also owed to James Francis for assisting with the tour and forwarding renderings of the North End Zone project. Thank you both!
Recently, I had the great opportunity to visit the University of Southern California and take a private tour of several of the campus’ athletic facilities.
Senior Associate Athletic Director, Mark Jackson, was gracious to grant me several hours of his time as he led me through the athletic department’s present home in Heritage Hall and through the school’s current $70 million construction project, the John McKay Center. Upon completion, the John McKay Center will be a state-of-the-art 110,000 square foot facility which will house athletic department and football offices, student-athlete academic services, a football locker room, weight room, sports medicine area, nutrition area, recruiting lounge and indoor practice turf. To provide some insight into just how large of a project the John McKay Center is, the original 48,000 square foot Heritage Hall building was completed in 1971 for a cost of $2.8 million.
Our tour began in the lobby of Heritage Hall. Heritage Hall boasts a proud collection of trophies and awards earned by various Trojan players throughout the years. At the forefront of the display are the Heisman Trophy awards won by Trojan football players. Jackson indicated that plans are still in the works as to how the numerous awards won by USC and its athletes will be incorporated into the John McKay Center.
However, Jackson noted that one thing Athletic Director, Pat Haden, wants to bring more attention to, is the Olympic success of USC student-athletes. Outside of Heritage Hall, banners hang proclaiming this success. USC athletes have won 258 Olympic medals to date, and if USC was a country, it would rank 12th in terms of gold medal count. USC’s athletic department expects its gold medal count to increase with the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Currently, Heritage Hall is home to USC’s athletic department offices and football offices. It also is home to the Jess Hill Weight Room, an athletic training facility and an academic support area. Heritage Hall is largely decorated with statements and images reflecting USC’s tremendous athletic success. A hallway is lined with pictures of USC’s 156 All-Americans, while the football offices have a wall which lists facts about USC’s National Championship winning teams. There is also a wall featuring pictures of Sports Illustrated issues on which USC athletes have graced the covers and another wall with USC coaches who have been named the National Coach of the Year. This wall includes the face of John McKay, the namesake for USC’s new $70 million athletic facility. McKay’s son, John, works in the athletic department as a Senior Associate Athletic Director. During my tour, Jackson and I ran into the younger McKay, who jovially joked with me that the new John McKay Center is actually named after him.
Below are some pictures of the facilities in Heritage Hall.
While all of the facilities I visited at Heritage Hall were all modern and of good size, one thing Jackson continually stressed was how each facility will increase in size and technology when the John McKay Center is opened.
“Heritage Hall, for 40 years, has been the heart of USC athletics. It was state of the art at the time it was built, and over the course of 40 years, it has seen tremendous success, when you look at USC’s Olympic story, All-Americans, and football success. All of those athletes filtered through here. It served its purpose, but we realized that at the turn of the century, we were far behind the teams we were competing against. With football’s success, Pete Carroll initiated the idea that we need to improve our facilities. We received approval to move forward with the McKay Center in 2009. In order to do this, it [the McKay Center] had to accomplish a number of things. Number one, it had to have a mission of graduating our student-athletes. That’s why you’ll see space dedicated solely to academic support. We dedicated about 26,000 square feet of space to academic support. Second, it had to utilize all 21 sports, and all 700-plus athletes. This wasn’t going to just be a football building; all of the athletes would get to use it,” noted Jackson.
When Jackson and I walked over to the McKay Center, the truth of his comments became apparent. Although it remains under construction, it is clear that the McKay Center will be a facility unmatched in terms of size, facilities and technology.
The exterior of the three-story McKay Center will feature the same college Romanesque style that is definitive of USC. The contractor of the project is Tutor-Saliba Corporation. A Tutor-Saliba Corporation executive, Ron Tutor, serves on USC’s Board of Trustees. The project was financed privately, without any money coming from USC’s athletic department to fund the project.
The main level of the McKay Center will be home to an 25,000 square foot academic support center. “It’s on the main floor, which is exactly where it should be. A lot of places, you walk in, and they want to throw football or basketball in your face. Well, we want to throw academics in your face. It’s a great message to send to recruits,” said Jackson.
The main level also features a grand dual staircase display. Above the staircases will be three large television screens where various USC athletic highlights will be featured.
The lower level of the McKay Center spans 60,000 square feet. It will be home to strength and conditioning, sports medicine and football locker rooms. The football locker rooms will be state-of-the-art and also serve to promote USC’s interest in graduating its student-athletes. Each football player’s locker will come equipped with a computer, through which they can complete assignments or communicate with professors. The lower level also features an expansive sports nutrition area, which will have healthy foods and nutritionists on hand to assist USC student-athletes maintain a well-balanced diet.
The third level of the McKay Center will be home to football and athletic department offices. Each of the offices appeared to be of large size. However, most impressive was head football coach Lane Kiffin’s office. His office is a suite, which includes a front area to hold informal meetings and then a back formal office. The space is absolutely expansive and will definitely assist Kiffin with recruiting.
The USC Trojans have long been known for their athletic success. However, with the birth of the McKay Center, this success will only continue and expand. The finished product of the McKay Center will be a sight to be seen and will allow USC to compete in ways beyond how it does presently.
I would like to send a huge thank you to Mark Jackson for being a wonderful host and for generously spending hours of his busy day showing me the McKay Center and Heritage Hall. Mark is truly an asset to USC, as I witnessed his dedication to the program, this project and the various student-athletes I saw him interact with.
When I visited Texas A&M last month I had the pleasure of going on an athletics facilities tour with Kevin Hurley, Associate Athletic Director for Construction and Facilities. Considered collectively, A&M’s facilities are top-notch. The only major improvements needed are to Kyle Field and the football training facilities, and there appear to be plans for that in the near future.
I took plenty of pictures and notes so I could take you on a tour of the facilities as well.
First up was the basketball arena and attached practice facilities.
Here you can see the floor being put down for volleyball. Reed Arena seats 12,500 and has no suites. However, Hurley tells me they could fit 10 if there was a demand for suites. I’ve written previously about how suites can make all the difference in which schools are profiting from basketball and which are not.
Hurley says men’s basketball averages 6,700-7,700 per home game, and women’s basketball averages 3,000-3,200. The numbers drop greatly when games are held while school is out of session. Student attendance keeps the place nearly full when games are played while students are on campus.
Although Reed Arena is not large enough to hold the men’s basketball finals, A&M is hosting the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in March.
This portion of Reed Arena, where competition is held for basketball and volleyball, is owned by a separate entity outside of the school and leased by the athletic department. However, the next stop on our tour, the practice facilities, are owned by the school and are on par with the best I’ve seen in the country.
When you walk into the building that houses the men’s and women’s basketball practice facilities you enter an atrium. To one side you enter the men’s facilities and to the other you enter the women’s facilities. They are mirror images of one another. Each includes a practice court, weight room, training room, locker room, and a lounge.
Above is the weight room on the men’s side. Below is the lounge for the player’s and a meeting room.
Now comes the most impressive locker I’ve seen at any Division I school. Each men’s and women’s basketball player has a locker like the one pictured below – complete with computer, desk and chair.
Below are pictures of the empty locker room and the training room on the men’s side.
Next up was the women’s soccer field…
Although I haven’t visited all of the softball stadiums in the SEC, I’m told A&M’s (seen below) will fall near the bottom of the pile, while baseball (not pictured because it’s undergoing massive renovations) will be one of the top two or three.
Swim and dive facilities are a part of the student recreation center and are rented by the athletic department for practicies and meets.
There are only a handful of indoor tracks on college campuses around the nation, and I’m told by many from within and outside the school that Texas A&M’s indoor track facility is the very best.
The facility that is probably next in line for a facelift is Texas A&M’s weight room for football, located just behind the south end zone. Should the rumored plans to add seating in the south end zone come to fruition, I don’t see how this building could remain intact in its current location. I’m guessing that means a new one will be constructed. There’s nothing wrong with the current facility, it just hasn’t been updated as recently as the other athletic facilities.
There’s also a nice lounge for the football players…
The football locker room is as nice as any I’ve seen, but I still think the basketball players have the best lockers.
At each school I’ve visited, I always ask about capital campaigns for athletics. At A&M they’ve gone to project-based capital campaigns instead of big generic athletics campaigns. They’ve found they often have donors who are interested in a particular sport. For example, right now they have a potential donor who might be interested in adding clay courts to the tennis complex. No other Division I school has clay tennis courts. While they wouldn’t be used in competition, it could be used as a recruiting tool to lure tennis players with pro aspirations.
The other thing I noticed at A&M that you don’t see at every school is separate weight rooms and training facilities for nearly every sport. There are a few sports grouped together, like basketball and volleyball, but there are many small weight rooms and training rooms instead of one big one of each that all athletes have to share. Not every school has gone to this model. Some believe it’s best not to segregate the athletes from one another. However, if you have the money, this setup sure was nice.
Overall, I was impressed with many of A&M’s facilities. The basketball practice gyms and accompanying weight rooms, training rooms and locker rooms were the best I’ve seen anywhere and are comparable to the more highly publicized facilities at Louisville (which I’ll detail in a later post).
Plenty of building and renovation has taken place during Bill Byrne’s tenure at Texas A&M, so expect to see more upgrades in the future.
Thank you to Athletic Director Bill Byrne and Associate Athletic Director Kevin Hurley for letting me take a peek inside A&M’s facilities!
I’ve got a great guest post for you today on giving college football fans what they want. But first, you want more of me, right? Good, because I’ve got video from my weekly segment I do every Thursday at 10:30am on The Pulse Network. This week we spent the first part of the show discussing the USA Today story on Rutgers I responded to earlier this week. I go on to discuss why Frank McCourt’s days as a MLB owner are numbered because he’s been using the team as his own personal credit card and end with a discussion on what Tiger Woods is doing to his brand power and why the NBA can’t afford its lockout.
If you still want more of me, here’s a podcast from my appearance on the Michigan Insider this morning where I talked about Michigan’s athletic facility expenses, self-sustaining athletic departments and why departments who aren’t self-sufficient are subsidized by their university. My interview starts at the 9-minute mark:
Ok, that’s enough of me for one day. Now I’d like to introduce you to my favorite college sports blog: College Football’s Most Dangerous Blog. It’s called that because the writer happens to be extraordinarily opinionated, and his opinions are rarely popular. The writer also happens to be my boyfriend, Chadd Scott. My admiration of his work, however, came long before I ever met him, so I present the following with no bias.
This is from a post Chadd had on his blog this week as he attempted to give good news to ALL college football fans:
When writing “College Football’s Most Dangerous Blog,” I try to do many things. I try to make you think and feel. I try to say what’s never been said. I try to attract as many readers as possible. Most importantly, I try to be honest. Everything I write, I honestly believe in.
Why am I changing? Because it’s never been more apparent to me that the vast majority of college football fans (you) don’t want honesty or investigation or reality when it comes to your favorite team, you want good news. You want to hear how the next crop of recruits are the best to ever step foot on campus and how the redesigned strength and conditioning program will turn the current roster into a collection of freakish monsters capable of dominating all competition. In the words of my buddy Colin Cowherd, fans want affirmation, not information.
If that’s what you want – and judging by the droves of you plopping down your hard-earned money to get in line behind the rest of the lemmings at your local pay-for-good-news college football website you do – here’s some good news for everybody.
Clemson’s new offensive coordinator Chad Morris will replicate Gus Malzahn’s success in Death Valley and if the CU Tigers aren’t playing for a national title this year, they will next.
Auburn’s Trooper Taylor simply connects with young people better than all the other college football recruiters.
Nick Saban has the long-term health of his players foremost in mind when he encourages certain members of the Tide to take medical hardships.
Butch Davis can’t possibly be expected to know what everybody in his football program is doing at all times and no coach will ever be able to control what his players say on social media.
Bobby Petrino – misunderstood. Arkansas is the job he’s been coaching his whole life to obtain.
Al Golden = Jimmy Johnson.
With the recruits he has verbally committed, James Franklin is on the verge of turning Vandy into a player in the SEC East.
Urban Meyer, Gene Chizik and Jim Tressel all won national championships in their second seasons; see where I’m going with this Tennessee fans!
A JUCO nose tackle and two new linebackers will have Georgia’s defense DOMINATING; add in the best true freshman running back since Herschel (Isiah Crowell) and UGA is Atlanta bound in December.
Virginia fans are as passionate as any in the ACC.
Paul Johnson doesn’t need highly rated recruits, he wins with scheme.
It’s no longer just the Big Three in the SEC East (UF, UT, UGA), it’s the Big Four with South Carolina.
Considering their TV markets, I expect Memphis and UCF to be invited into the Big East any day now. And Houston, you’re next up for the Big 12.
This Florida State team reminds me of the dynasty years.
Having perspective on life beyond football makes Mark Richt a better coach.
Look at the coming facility upgrades and season ticket records, Dan Mullen will be at Mississippi State for years to come.
ACC football, you’re this close to catching the SEC.
You’re all going to the conference title game! You’ve all got the best coach! Your student-athletes are scholars and gentlemen! Other fans who dislike your favorite team are simply jealous. Your stadium is the best, your cheerleaders are the best, your uniforms are the best, your fans are the best, your tailgating is the best, your coeds are the best, your academics are the best, your traditions are the best, your message board is the best, you’re the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As you’ll remember if you read this site regularly (and if you don’t, why aren’t you?), Michigan is on of the 22 self-sustaining athletic departments. In fact, they’re projecting an operating surplus (that’s operating revenue minus operating expenses, which means it does not include capital expenditures) of $11.4 million for the upcoming fiscal year.
However, because of renovations to Crisler Arena (basketball) and Yost Arena (hockey), they will have a net loss of $18.5 million for the year. That’s, of course, not a loss that reflects the athletic department operating in the black. It’s just a depletion in their overall fund balance.
Michigan has taken on quite a few capital projects in the past decade. Here’s a look at the budget for each project and the gifts from donors for each project:
As you can see, gifts help make these capital projects possible, but they only make a small dent in the total amount needed. The athletic department has incurred debt for a number of the projects and has budgeted $13.2 million in expenses for this debt service for the coming year. This is up $2.2 million from last year due to debt incurred for the Michigan Stadium and Crisler Arena projects.
In addition to this debt service, Michigan has another $14.4 million budgeted for “Facilities Expenses” and a “Deferred Maintenance Fund Transfer”. I should point out that $4.5 million of the $14.4 million mentioned is for the “Deferred Maintenance Fund Transfer”. This is a fund set up during the 2003 fiscal year that is being built up to fund future “major repair and rehabilitation projects” for athletic facilities. Because Michigan turns an operating profit each year, they’re able to put aside for future capital projects in ways I’m sure many other universities cannot.
The $14.4 million I just detailed on top of the $29.9 million set aside for renovations to Crisler and Yost and $13.2 million in debt service on facilities adds up to $57.5 million Michigan is spending next year on facilities alone.
Over time, however, the money may be well-spent. First, there’s a lot of keeping up with the Joneses that happens amongst athletic departments. You don’t want to lose a recruit because another school had nicer locker rooms or a better lounge for student-athletes. Better athletes hopefully translates into better success on the field. The national attention that comes with success can mean more applications for the university. It can also mean greater brand recognition, which translates into additional revenue from licensing and advertising.
For a school like Michigan who sells out football games, adding additional seating areas generally pays for itself over time. In the first season of having new club level and suite seating areas in Michigan Stadium last year, Michigan saw a $5 million increase in revenue attributed directly to those seating areas.
What do you think? Are expenditures on facilities getting out of hand? What can be done about it? If you simply stop renovating or upgrading, will the university fall in stature both on and off the field? Are naming rights the wave of the future in terms of funding renovations and upgrades?