Ranking the 25 best facilities in college football
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) July 16, 2019
24. Texas Tech
23. Oregon State
20. Florida State
16. North Carolina
The skinny: Thanks to its first locker room enhancement in a decade for the economical price of $1.5 million and early renderings of a new football-only facility, the University of Florida enters our facilities rankings for the first time ever this month. Construction on the Gators’ new $85 million football-only facility is expected to start later this year or early 2020 with a completion goal of 2021. The recent completion of Phase I included an indoor practice facility, but the standalone building should feature locker rooms, a strength and conditioning space, coaches offices and lounge spaces.
The $160 million renovation and expansion of Reynolds Razorback Stadium at the University of Arkansas was completed in 2018 and provides one of the nicest gameday extras in college football. According to the Fayetteville Flyer, Razorback Stadium’s upgrades include “expanded north end zone project features four levels, and includes 40 suites, 70 loge boxes, and 1,967 seats, along with an updated Broyles Center that houses offices for coaches and department administrators, a new game-day home locker room for the players, and other amenities.”
Gil Brandt, the former VP of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys and now a senior analyst for NFL.com, said on Twitter in 2018 that TCU football’s facilities, “without hesitation,” are better than those of several teams in the NFL, per the Dayton Daily News.
As part of a new five-year plan announced in September 2018, Florida State will join college football’s arms race with a stand-alone football facility that will be built adjacent to the Dunlap Athletic Training Complex at a cost of $60 million. The Seminoles upgraded their current locker rooms at Doak Campbell Stadium in 2014 and has since added a nice player’s lounge which puts FSU near the top of the ACC (but behind others of similar program prestige). With noticeable enhancements elsewhere nationally, the Seminoles tumbled a couple spots in these rankings since last season.
— UNISWAG (@UNISWAG) August 2, 2017
The greatest arms race bargain in recent years? Washington’s thrifty $1 million locker room upgrade at Husky Stadium prior to the 2017 season was terrific, highlighted by 1.1 miles of purple LEDs. “It’s like a spaceship in there,” defensive tackle Greg Gaines told the Seattle Times. “It’s definitely the coolest locker room I’ve ever been in.” Washington’s Husky Stadium debuted a massive $280M renovation in 2013 featuring new locker rooms, weight rooms and a training center and thus far, those enhancements have stood the rest of (relatively short) time.
The $70 million, 110,000-square-foot John McKay Center opened at USC in 2012 and houses meeting rooms, a locker room for football players and coaches offices. There’s a two-story video board that acts as the centerpiece of the complex and acts as its best feature. There’s another Pac-12 program extremely high on this list, but one to keep an eye on in the future is Arizona. The Wildcats are planning new locker rooms, an indoor practice facility and major upgrades to their stadium in the coming years that could exceed $200 million.
There’s a new threat in the Big Ten’s arms race thanks to Northwestern’s state-of-the-art Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center, over 425,000 square feet of bliss that cost an estimated $270 million. 247Sports Director of Recruiting Steve Wiltfong toured Northwestern’s new digs last July and was taken aback by the breathtaking views and the all-glass facade on the north side that gives way to full views of Lake Michigan on the left and Chicago’s skyline on the right. There’s a barber chair and a hot and cold tub that seats 40 inside Northwestern’s facility, a rare recruiting win against other league powers for Pat Fitzgerald and staff.
North Carolina’s new indoor facility houses a 120-yard synthetic practice field and provides a significant upgrade over Eddie Smith Field House, which the Tar Heels football team previously used in inclement weather. Parallel to the indoor facility, in the space previously occupied by Henry Stadium and Navy Fields, there’s two 120-yard outdoor practice fields and additional space for sports medicine and strength and conditioning. The cost of the football practice complex was estimated at $32 million. It’s one of the nicest indoor facilities in the ACC and with recent upgrades to Kenan Stadium, there’s a lot to like in Chapel Hill for new coach Mack Brown.