Blue White Illustrated

January 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 2 3 7 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M Hall was renovated in 2014 and again five years later. The entry now looks like a Niketown store thanks to the dozens of exclusive-to-Michigan shoes that line the dramatically lit walls. The Wolverines' Football Performance Center features the largest single-sport weight room in the country at 34,000 square feet. It includes $1.2 million in strength and conditioning equipment, but the most unique feature is the "car wash" — a walkthrough shower, fol- lowed by a walkthrough ice bath, both of which players file though after finishing up practice. MICHIGAN STATE In February, Michi- gan State received a $20 million donation from former Spartans basketball player Mat Ishbia to upgrade the Skandalaris Football Center. Ishbia asked that the expanded facility be named after his former coach. That would be Tom Izzo, not George Perles, Nick Saban or Mark Dantonio. While the Tom Izzo Foot- ball Building might sound a bit strange, school officials are no doubt thrilled to be in position to improve their weight room, locker room and meeting spaces. In November, the university an- nounced that it had received another $10 million donation to support the project. MINNESOTA Gophers coach P.J. Fleck has said that the Larson Football Per- formance Center is "not just a football complex, it's a life complex." Life must be pretty good in Minneapolis, because the 96,000-square-foot facility, which opened in 2018, is gaudy. Among other amenities, it features lighted lockers, a theater-style meeting room, a Minne- sota football hall of fame, and inspira- tional messages about sacrifice, deter- mination and boat rowing plastered on seemingly every flat surface. The Gophers also have the Big Ten's newest stadium, Huntington Bank Sta- dium, which opened in 2009 at a cost of $303.4 million. NEBRASKA The Cornhuskers have a $135 million project in the works. Ground has been broken on the 315,000-square- foot facility, which will be located next to Memorial Stadium and is set to open in 2023. Another $20 million project is in the planning stages and will include the training table and academic support area once funding is secured. NORTHWESTERN Unless someone opens a branch campus in Miami Beach, no school in this conference — or maybe any conference — is going to top the Wildcats. Simply put, Northwestern has the swankiest football headquarters in the Big Ten. Its practice facility sits along the edge of Lake Michigan and features floor-to-ceiling windows with spectac- ular water views. The centerpiece of a $260 million athletic complex, the practice facility opened in 2018 and includes both indoor and outdoor fields, a sports medicine area, team meeting rooms, a nutrition bar and a "virtual reality room" in which players are able to step inside a simulated game. OHIO STATE The Buckeyes have con- tinually invested in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. It's been renovated three times since it opened in 1987, the most recent project being a $7.8 mil- lion upgrade in 2019 that added a caf- eteria along with improvements to the 42,000-square-foot players lounge, such as Pop-A-Shot games, pool tables and a golf simulator. And what self-respecting football pro- gram would go to all that trouble with- out putting a waterfall in the lobby that shimmers in the school colors? PURDUE The Kozuch Football Perfor- mance Complex opened in 2017 at a cost of $65 million. Designed by the Popu- lous sports architecture firm, the center measures 112,000 square feet and has a dramatically sloped roof that's designed to evoke the flight path of an airplane taking off — an homage to the school's focus on aeronautical engineering. RUTGERS Like Penn State, the Scarlet Knights commissioned a facilities master plan recently. Theirs calls for an indoor practice facility — the Knights currently use an inflatable bubble — along with renovations to SHI Stadium and the Rut- gers Athletic Center. The university has estimated that the football facility will cost about $150 million, about half of which would need to come from private donations. Rutgers' athletics department has come under fire recently for running bigger deficits than it had previously disclosed. It's unclear whether that will imperil the football project. WISCONSIN Most Big Ten schools have sunk millions into their football facili- ties in recent years, but the Badgers are an exception. They've been looking to upgrade the McClain Athletic Facility for years, but a report in the Wisconsin State Journal in April stated that the project was "on hold." The Badgers' current indoor facility is a no-frills edifice. It only has room for an 80-yard field, and the low ceiling makes kicking difficult. Wisconsin has explored the possibility of building a new indoor space with a full-size field next to Camp Randall Stadium, but the project has taken a backseat to other items on the school's wish list. Before the indoor practice facility can be addressed, Wis- consin wants to add more premium seat- ing to the stadium and make improve- ments to its basketball arena. The cost of those projects has been estimated at $120 million. Like James Franklin, it appears that Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst is going to have to be patient. Change may be coming, but perhaps not on his preferred timetable. ■

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