Troy reveals Veterans Memorial North End Zone Facility & Groundbreaking
TROY, Ala. (troytrojans.com) – Troy University will begin construction on a state-of-the-art Veterans Memorial Stadium North End Zone Football Facility immediately following the conclusion of the 2016 football season, Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain announced at a press conference Thursday.
The $24 million facility will provide the Troy football program with over 70,000 square feet of space for student-athletes, staff and fans. Additionally, a 35-by-90-foot video board and 402 new club seats will be included in the project. The facility will be located 30 feet off the backline in the north end zone of Veterans Memorial Stadium and will be four stories high.
The facility is expected to be completed in the spring of 2018 in advance of Troy’s season opener against Boise State on Sept. 1, 2018.
The North End Zone Football Facility will feature a new locker room, strength and conditioning center, athletic training facility, nutritional “fueling station”, mud room with cool down plunge pool and team lounge.
The North End Zone Football Facility will feature offices for the football staff and meeting rooms with state-of-the-art video technology.
The North End Zone Football Facility will feature 402 new club seats that will provide an excellent vantage point of the game as well as access to exclusive concessions and parking areas. Additionally, fans will enjoy the new 35-by-90-foot video board.
Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr.
Just a moment or two earlier I leaned over to Lamar (Higgins) and I said, “You know who would really enjoy being here today? I mentioned two names. One being Doug Hawkins—and he truly is here in spirit—and I mentioned Coach (Larry) Blakeney.” I was sitting here and they said, “Coach Blakeney is here, he’s just looking for a parking spot.” I thought, “Surely we can give him a parking spot.”
What a pleasure it is. I’ve said so many times over the years that you’re probably tired of hearing me say these things, but great universities stir great emotions. That’s always the case. I think in America with intercollegiate athletics being fairly unique to this country, our emotions are stirred even more. What excitement there is here. I teased Coach Neal Brown a minute ago about all those kids publishing ‘Neal Brown for President’ buttons that I’ve seen that I told him, “This election you may have won.”
Notre Dame Coach Frank Leahy said, “A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.” A football program, especially one that is a storied as ours, does stir great emotions. I want to thank Coach Blakeney and subsequently Coach Brown for their contributions and all those who preceded them in building a great program. Intercollegiate athletics are so important and it’s been a pleasure to watch our program over the last 27 years as we evolved from Division II to Division I. Many of us can remember—I know Coach Blakeney can remember—when this stadium would seat 12,000 fans. Then in 1998 we expanded that to 17,500 and in 2003 we took it to 30,000 fans. This weekend we expect all 30,000 of those seats to be filled as we beat Appalachian State on this field. No pressure, Neal.
We have come to a point of great celebration; a point that we’ve discussed so many times over the past several years. Several years ago we went up and almost beat Oklahoma State on their field. We went into their museum and there was a quote by Coach Hank Iba that said, “Football and coaching is no longer about the X’s and the O’s, it’s about the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s. It’s about recruiting and it’s about facilities.” All of these things are interconnected. If we want to be number one, we have to have first-class facilities. That’s why we’re so proud that over the years—and certainly in the last 25 years—we’ve invested about $100 million dollars in our athletic facilities. In the last five years, we’ve seen some major improvements. I think Trojan Arena, which is not many meters away from here, is one of the best places, not only in Alabama, but in this part of the country to watch a basketball game, is a beautiful facility.
What we are about to do here will reflect the good stewardship that we experienced there … it’s a great day for all of us. We hope this north end zone will do exactly what it’s designed to do and first and foremost be for our student-athletes in our efforts to give them the very best we can. God bless you and go Trojans. Thank you.
Troy Football Head Coach Neal Brown
This is an important day. Very early this morning I started to put together some remarks for this, we have a thing or two going on (this week). As I thought about the remarks I wanted to make, I couldn’t help but think about some really important Trojans that we have lost over the last 18 months or so. This would be so special to them. Keep them and their families in your hearts. We appreciate their contributions, and I am glad so many of you can be here to experience this.
This has been in the works for a while and like many good things, it takes time. We feel that through the hard work of a lot of people, we have this project exactly where it needs to be.
This is an important day for not only football, but for our university and athletic department. Two years ago I sat in front of you and talked about a vision of where we had been. I think it is important on a day like today, where we look at the future, that we understand where we have been as a football program, a program that has a deep tradition that we are extremely proud of. It started in NAIA with a national championship, Division II and won two national championships, go up to FCS and have one of the top programs in the country. Coach Blakeney leads that transition to Division I and goes on a run of five consecutive conference championships, that has only been duplicated in this era once by the other Trojans on the other side of the country.
As we look to the future, I think it is important that we recognize that history. When you have these types of moments, I think it is crucial that you do that. We also have to understand what we have to do to take that next step. Anytime you go through growth, we are growing right now as a football team, as a university and as an athletic department, you have to do things that are necessary to stay at that level. If you don’t do that, you get passed by. For us, this north end zone project is absolutely critical.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of your program. It is a game and it is about players. We are having success right now because Brandon Silvers is the best quarterback in our league, Jordan Chunn is an NFL running back, Rashad Dillard is the best pass rusher in our league, Kris Weatherspoon is one of the best safeties in the league. We have really good players at key positions. For us to continue to do that, this for recruiting is absolutely critical. I think you have seen an uptick in recruiting. The small renovations that we did at Tine Davis Fieldhouse has enabled us to get in on some kids that maybe in the past we couldn’t have. We have been selling this vision of this building to guys that we have been recruiting now for almost two years.
Team morale is so important within a program. When you are dealing with so many guys in football, 125 give or take, team morale is crucial. The better you take care of your guys, the better they are going to play. This facility is going to allow our guys to train, to develop, not only football wise but also from a meeting room standpoint, from a body development standpoint in the weight room, in the training room, and nutrition. We have to start developing guys better and I think this facility is crucial to that.
For the fans, we have a premier facility in the Sun Belt Conference. We have one of the top stadiums in all the Group of Five. Now we have increased our game day experience. It will be loud because we are bowled in and the video board is going to add another dimension to our fans. We wanted to be consistent Sun Belt contenders. And we want to be one of the top programs in the Group of Five. We want to be in that discussion about getting a New Year’s Day bowl bid. That is why today is as big of a day as we have had in our programs in a really long time.
A lot of time and effort went into this. I really appreciate Coach Blakeney and his vision on this project. His vision is what has gotten us to this day. Jeremy McClain and Tony Ferrante have done the heavy lifting in this project. They have done a great job getting us to this point.
This facility is huge and times up with our first official visit weekend, the second weekend in December. There is going to be ground movement there and that will be big for those recruits. I want to urge you; we need to continue to have support for this facility. Don’t think just because we are breaking ground that we have paid for it. We need continued support. I know we have some loyal people here, and I appreciate it. On Saturday, we have as big a game that we have played here in a long time. We need as big of a crowd as possible. It is important that we honor our military and we need you to be here and be loud. It is going to be a great college football game.
Troy Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain
What a great day! What great day to be a Trojan, as every day is, but this day is really special. Over the past 15 months, I’ve thought about this day quite a bit. I’m so thankful to be standing up here to make this special announcement. Like I said, the idea and the vision for this was born many years ago and really out of necessity as we’ve really outgrown our facilities. I think that’s a fair way to put it. We’ve really began to outgrow our facilities, we moved it into being an FBS program and a very successful FBS program. While it took some time to get to this point, I do want to share some of the floor plans and the highlights.
What I do know is for the last 15 months, we’ve been laser focused on trying to get this done for every reason that’s been expressed here today. We had a sense of urgency about getting it done. Not only have we gotten it done, I feel like the people involved in this group have made sure we’ve gotten it done right. It’s going to be one of the best facilities within those (Group of Five) programs, there’s no doubt in my mind that will be the case. We’ll take note of that and it’s going to make a huge difference for us in the recruiting process. We had to work through some hurdles. We had some discussions about the foundation, discussion about the budgets, discussions about programming. That’s a typical thing that happens with these types of facilities. I’m thankful for that, because again I’m thinking where we ended up is the right place.
I’m not going to go through room-by-room, but I am going to share some things with you that I think are important to highlight. This building is going to start 30 feet off the back of the end zone. Just think about how close that is. That’s one of the things we talked about early on. I wanted to make sure that we got as close to the field as possible because I want teams when they come in here to play us to know its going to be loud and we’re going to be right on top of them. So we got as close to the field as we could. Thirty feet away from that back end zone is where we’re going to start this building. This building is going to be 370 feet long. Which means it’s going to fill in that entire end zone. We used the term bowl in, that’s what we were trying to do; we want this stadium to feel like it’s bowled in.
It’s going to be a real intimate setting. Opposing teams aren’t going to be excited about coming in here and playing us. The total square footage on the building, including inside the building and the top of the building is about 77,000 square feet. It is a lot of space in that end zone. It’s going to take up the whole end zone and it’s going to be a lot of space that will be utilized by our program.
The other thing I’m really happy about and wanted to make sure we did. When this process start this process started the plan was to take down Tine Davis Fieldhouse and build a larger building here and get all of our administration there, but as we got into it, we started talking about programming. What really made sense was to leave Tine Davis as it was, to make some adjustments and renovations as Neal has talked about and what we wanted to do was connect the two buildings. When you get a chance to look at floor plans, Tine Davis Fieldhouse is connected to this building on both levels.
You’ll see some pictures of the strength and conditioning area around the room. The bottom floor of Tine Davis Fieldhouse will tie directly into that strength and conditioning area. You walk through Tine Davis and right into that space. The upper level of Tine Davis Fielhouse will connect to a lobby, which will connect to the first floor of this new building.
To give you some perspective, the first floor of the building will be strength and conditioning, athletic training space, nutrition space, locker room, team lounge, mudroom and laundry space. That’s really a players space. That’s where they’re going to spend 90 percent of their time, coming and going with strength and conditioning and the locker room to those areas.
The second floor will be all of our football coaches’ offices, all of our meeting space, our recruiting space, our video space. That’s all going to happen on the second floor. The flow of the building is going to be great, but again we’re going to leave our administration in Tine Davis Fieldhouse and I think that was a key to making this project happen and making it fit and the programming be right.
On the third level, we didn’t just want it to be a building, we wanted it to be a center for activity. We’ve got a little over 400 chairback seats in this facility that will be right there on top of that end zone. On top of that we’ll have a terrace space. It will be an opportunity for us to basically have an in-game tailgating experience that we’ll sell to groups and corporate sponsors and things like that per game. It will be a great center for activity.
You’ll also see a scoreboard on top of that building, which is 35 feet by 90 feet. To give you some perspective, our board now is 23 feet by 54 feet. We’re talking about 50 to 60 percent bigger than our current board. We’re going to have both of those boards in play. It’s going to be a great in-game fan experience for us.
Under that scoreboard there’s going to be about a 25,000 square foot club space with high-end concessions and high-end bar. So we will service those 400 seats in that north end zone. We’ll start pushing out the opportunity to purchase seats in this area. I think it’s going to be a great experience and a great place to watch a football game.
We’re thankful we accomplished our football program’s needs from a programming standpoint, nice well-designed space and we were able to accomplish the fact that this is going to be a great fan amenity space and really improve our gameday experience.
Today is a great step forward for our program and really an opportunity to build on our momentum. I don’t know if we could fit more positive energy into this week. You talk about this announcement today, getting ready for a very important game this weekend and where we are at as a program sitting at 7-1.
I do hear our name being mentioned on a national stage. That’s exciting and should be exciting for all of you. When we’re the talk on talk radio and on some of these sport stations. It should feel good for all of us. We’ve got some serious momentum.
This announcement today and this project is going to continue that for us. In my introductory press conference 15 months ago, I talked a lot about where I thought we could go. About having no barriers for success except for those we create. Today is an example of that from a momentum perspective to fill the vision. This is a great step in the right direction for us as a program and as a fan base. I couldn’t be more excited about this.