ACC Arms Race Has Begun
By Matt Phifer
The modern era of college football where schools are competing for the best recruits, facilities, TV and ticket revenue has ignited an arms race in the ACC.
Six of the ACC's 14 schools currently are in the process of renovating or building new facilities. Another two have finished new facilities in the last three years to compete in a world where pizazz can be the difference between landing your state's best recruit and making do.
Clemson opened its new $10 million, 80,000-square-foot facility in January 2013. It includes a full-length field, four play clocks and to top it off, a video board the same size as the one found in Memorial Stadium. Georgia Tech opened a new 88,000 square foot indoor practice facility before the 2011 season that includes viewing platforms for recruits and six large doors leading to the outdoor practice fields.
N.C. State, Syracuse and Virginia Tech all are building new indoor football practice facilities. N.C. State's new facility will replace the Wendell H. Murphy Center, which the school boasts as one of the largest football operations facilities in the country at 103,254 square feet. It's only 11 years old, a sign of how quickly things have changed.
Syracuse is building a much-needed 102,258 square foot practice facility for the football team that will feature a full football field. As of now, if the team wants to practice inside and can't use the Carrier Dome, it must practice on a circular field less than 100 yards in length in the university's aging Manley Field House.
Players, coaches and administrators at the school called the upgrade necessary for the college football arms race. Syracuse may not stop at upgrading the practice facilities. During the winter, Syracuse University revealed plans for a new 44,000-seat retractable roof stadium, which would be a first for the college game. Progress on that has been delayed until the university can iron out details with the city of Syracuse.
Virginia Tech recently revealed that it will build a 92,000 square foot indoor practice facility across the street from Lane Stadium at the cost of $18 million. The facility will feature a roof that is 85 feet high, about 20 feet higher than the average indoor facility, to allow the team to focus on special teams and install viewing platforms 20 and 65 feet above the field.
The Hokies' cross-state rival, Virginia, is closing in on a $14.5 million fundraising goal to build an indoor practice facility of its own.
Florida State is renovating its facility. The Seminoles wanted their locker room to be unique, so they are combining the best features of the Dallas Cowboys' and New York Yankees' locker rooms into what looks to be an amazing setup. Each locker will feature a list of the great Florida State players to wear that number and statues of the players whose numbers are retired will glow as they stand watch over the Seminoles' current team. In addition to changes to the team meeting rooms, Florida State's facility will include a mock-up of the ESPN College Gameday set.
Wake Forest will build a 95,000 square foot sports performance center that it says will accommodate 350 athletes from 18 different sports. It will be the home of the school's football program and a prominent force for its basketball program.
When all these facilities are completed there will only be one active ACC practice facility built before 2000.
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