SCOTT STADIUM, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Consider what Virginia did with its stadium from 1998-2000 the college football equivalent of Baltimore's Camden Yards. Thanks to an $86 million renovation project - and a $25 million lead gift from alumnus Carl W. Smith - Scott Stadium went from a serviceable venue to a marvel.
The highlights of the project included the additions of more than 15,000 seats, 44 luxury suites and a three-level parking garage.
That's not mentioning the significant aesthetic touchups (retro-looking bricks, and Old South-style pillars) the stadium received. Scott Stadium also had one of the first videoboards in the conference - "Hoo Vision" - which was unveiled in 1998.
HONORABLE MENTION: Carter-Finley Stadium, North Carolina State - The evolution of Carter-Finley the past 10 years has been steady, but the addition of the 117,000-square foot Wolfpack Towers (press area, 51 luxury suites, 955 club seats) - scheduled for completion prior to the 2005 season - will put the Pack's place in the league's upper echelon.
CHARLIE JUSTICE HALL OF HONOR, NORTH CAROLINA: Mack Brown couldn't keep up with Florida State on the field during his tenure with the Tar Heels, but he lapped the Seminoles off it. Known as a master of cultivating dollars for facilities, Brown spearheaded the effort to construct the $50 million Kenan Football Center, which was completed in 1997, just before he two-stepped to Texas.
A highlight of the building is the Charlie Justice Hall of Honor, a plush museum featuring memorabilia from more than 100 years of Tar Heels football. It has a small theater for presentations, as well as interactive kiosks scattered throughout.
HONORABLE MENTION: Rick Losco Trophy Room, Florida State - Not many schools have more trophies to flaunt from the past 15 years than the Seminoles. While the Losco Trophy Room might not have the bells and whistles like North Carolina's Hall of Honor, it does have the hardware. In addition to national championship trophies from 1993 and 1999, Florida State has won 11 conference titles in its 12 years in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
RECTOR FIELD HOUSE, VIRGINIA TECH: Yeah, Tech's in the ACC now, too. And the school's been on a building binge of late. A complete overhaul of the west side of Lane Stadium is in the works. Plans are also being mulled to build a new football-only indoor practice facility.
The indoor structure the football team uses now, the Rector Field House, is nothing to scoff at, even though it doubles as the school's indoor track and field complex. Rector is the only full-length indoor football facility in the ACC.
North Carolina and Clemson are the only other conference schools that use indoor facilities, but both are only about 50 or 60 yards in length.
HONORABLE MENTION: Eddie Smith Field House, North Carolina - Another of Mack Brown's creations. It's not 100 yards long, like Virginia Tech's, but it's still one of the only indoor facilities in the league.
ROGER HOLLER CHAMPIONS TRAINING COMPLEX, FLORIDA STATE: Think Florida State always seems to have the best athletes in the conference and the country? If so, heads up, because henceforth the 'Noles could be getting even more athletically sound.
The 15,000-plus-square foot Champions Training Complex is headed into its second full season of use. It has all custom-built equipment, platforms and weights. Included are 24 Powerlift workstations, 12 Olympic-style lifting platforms and more than 50 weight machines.
Additionally, Florida State boasts a top-notch speed training room, and also an aquatic facility to improve strength and agility.
HONORABLE MENTION: Merryman Center, Virginia Tech - Virginia Tech finished this $10.6 million all-purpose facility in 1997. The weight-training facility on the first floor has the school prepared to compete in the new ACC.
Wendell H. Murphy Football Center, North Carolina State: Once Chuck Amato got the Wolfpack's on-field product shaped up, he went to work on the school's off-field offerings.
The 103,254-square foot Murphy Center - just beyond Carter-Finley's east end zone - is the largest operations facility in the country devoted solely to football.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King said if an NFL team used the Murphy Center, it'd be one of the three nicest facilities in the league. Players like the ping-pong tables, wide screen TVs and video games on the third floor. Amato likes the racquetball court he made sure was included.
HONORABLE MENTION: Gossett Team House, Maryland - Ralph Friedgen is big on off-the-field university improvements, and the Gossett Team House is a big step in facility upgrading. The final two phases of the structure were recently completed. A centerpiece is the new 3,500-square foot auditorium, equipped with vast amounts of state-of-the-art presentation devices for meetings.
CURRENT: Death Valley was a pioneer venue in the early 1980s, when it was one of the first in the country - and the first in the Atlantic Coast Conference - to add luxury boxes and upper-deck seating. Its current capacity of 81,473, still near the top of the league, was set more than a decade ago.
With the Hill and Howard's Rock, it still is aesthetically pleasing for the most part. The only area some consider an eyesore is the west end zone, and that notion is about to be remedied.
FUTURE: School officials admit they got complacent with the stadium during the 1980s and most of the '90s. Status quo is out, though, with the upcoming $56 million WestZone Club project.
The first phase of construction, which most notably relates to the addition of nearly 2,000 club seats, is scheduled to begin just after the Nov. 20 South Carolina game. It is due for completion prior to the 2005 season.
Athletic department members are hopeful that the second phase, which pertains more to the day-to-day football operations facilities, is done by the beginning of the '06 season.
HALL OF CHAMPIONS
CURRENT: For now, Clemson's athletic trophies are currently housed in the Jervey Athletics Center's Hall of Champions, located just inside the Perimeter Road entrance of the building.
A few - including the 2004 Peach Bowl and 1981 national championship trophies - are kept in a new case in the McFadden Building's main foyer. The athletics department spent more than $100,000 last summer to upgrade McFadden by adding murals of things like the Hill, Death Valley and Tillman Hall, as well as people like Tommy Bowden and John Heisman.
FUTURE: The symbols of tradition and success will all be united when the second phase of the WestZone Club is completed. A part of the project is One Clemson Center, a museum highlighting all of the things that have brought in and kept Clemson's legion of dedicated fans.
It will feature large murals of some of the program's achievements (like the 1981 title) and tradition (like Heisman's coaching of the team in the early 1900s).
CURRENT: The state of Clemson's practice field affairs wasn't bad with three full-length and two half natural grass fields. Things were improved dramatically this summer, however. One of the three full fields was dug up and replaced with a full-length synthetic field, made of the same turf that's being used in many professional domed stadiums and some college venues. The surface, made of the same rubberized substance that's in tires, is far safer than earlier forms of artificial turf. The athletics department estimates it spent nearly $300,000 on the new field.
Addtionally, the Tigers will also have the option of practicing in the indoor track facility, which was completed in 2003. About 60 yards of synthetic turf was also installed inside, in case adverse weather conditions threaten outdoor practice.
FUTURE: The future came early for the practice fields. Their recent renovation catches Clemson up with the rest of the conference. The use of the indoor facility makes the school one of few in the ACC to do so.
TIGER STRENGTH TRAINING
CURRENT: Tigers athletes have been working out in the basement of the Jervey Athletics Center for years. Only now, it doesn't feel so much like a dungeon, but rather much more like a palace. Clemson pumped more than $300,000 into the remodeling of the old weight facility this summer. Only a few cosmetic items remain until the makeover is complete. The additions to the weight room include a new high-quality sound system, six flat-screen plasma TVs and new rubber flooring throughout the 15,000-square foot room.
FUTURE: Despite all the work and dollars thrust into the revamped weight room, the football team will get its own strength-training facility once the second phase of the WestZone Club project is complete. That doesn't mean the remodeled facility will go to waste. It will still be home to the rest of the school's strength training.
CURRENT: Immediately following the Tigers' Peach Bowl win over Tennessee, their locker room was torn out of the Jervey Athletics Center and completely reconstructed. Completed in July, the new locker room is divided into eight sections, with each section marked by a mural from a bowl game that Clemson has played in. Each player has a mahogany locker, and the room itself is outlined in steel.
The players' lounge area, in the entryway to the locker room, has seven plasma TVs - two equipped with an Xbox - four computers, and various murals commemorating moments in Tigers football history. The complete overhaul of the players' area cost an estimated $500,000.
FUTURE: Like the weight room, the new locker room and lounge will change hands once the WestZone Club is completed. Then, football will move to the stadium, and leave the remodeled locker room for other teams. Robert Ricketts, Clemson's athletic director for facilities, said the area was constructed in such a manner that it would be feasible to build walls to divide the sections of the existing locker room into several smaller dressing facilities.
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