NORMAN — In the past few months, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione has heard many of the same things from former players visiting new team facilities in OU’s south end zone: “Wow, I wish we had this when I was here.”
“I always say, ‘Well, we have this because you were here,’” Castiglione said.
That idea is a large part of the ethos behind OU’s lavish new team center, which was designed and built with input from many past and present OU student-athletes.
Sunday, Castiglione hosted media members on a tour of the 132,000 square-foot complex. The Sooners officially moved into the space in May, and the project is nearing 100-percent completion.
Come take a peek inside.
The tour began in OU’s training and rehabilitation center, a totally new space with state-of-the art equipment. When evaluating how to improve old rehab spaces, OU concluded it would be more cost effective and time effective to remove all the old equipment and start from scratch.
OU’s medical center is far larger than its previous space and features high-tech equipment and a hydrotherapy room.
OU opened up its quarterback meeting room, which is about what you would expect. The QB room contains eight theater-style seats, complete with a crimson OU logo on the headrest, a coaches’ computer table and projector. On the walls is a collage of past OU quarterbacks such as Jason White and Sam Bradford, and current OU quarterback Baker Mayfield has already earned a picture of his own.
PATH TO THE FIELD
Every inch of OU’s team space was designed with intent, including the graphics all designed with a similar style for branding purposes. The hallway from the locker room to the field features gray walls and carpet like most of the area. Before heading out the doors, a backlit “Play Like a CHAMPION Today” sign hangs above the wall, per Sooners tradition. Before players hit the field, they pass the words “NOW ENTERING THE HEART OF SOONER NATION.”
Hallways throughout the complex also feature adages to Sooner lore, including walls dedicated to Heisman Trophy winners, OU All-Americans and Sooners in the NFL.
OU’s players’ lounge is a spacious, modern-style room with cushioned gray chairs in the center of the room. Two large TVs hang on the wall and are hooked up to Xbox and PlayStation game consoles. The area also features a barber’s chair for haircuts.
On the far wall, there’s also a Gatorade station stocked with healthy snacks and drinks.
OU’s wide-open locker room is as impressive as it gets, with a futuristic look and custom graphics, including players’ pictures, on each locker. Walls near the main entrance feature OU memorabilia such as bowl watches, championship rings and bowl jerseys, plus TV screens with stats from OU’s latest practice. The space also includes extra lockers for former OU players who are training in Norman.
The locker room covers 12,000 square feet, counting the cold and hot tubs, which are one of the facility’s crown jewels. Cold tub water stays at 54 degrees, and there’s a waterfall structure on the room’s far end. The biggest sell is the room’s adjustable lighting, which can be dimmed to look like a high-end Vegas spa with a neon glow.
Players can easily pick up or drop off equipment in the team’s new equipment room, which is decorated with a wide variety of helmets, The wall currently has helmets from 98 Division I teams (more are on the way), and there are also gems such as foreign teams and a Lego helmet the Sooners got for reaching the 2015 College Football Playoff.
AND RED ROOM
OU will have two fully functional grass practice fields that face Lindsey Street. One field is 100 yards long and the other is 60. Near the entrance back to the football complex is OU’s “Red Room,” where team meetings and postgame press conference are held.
Another one of the most striking areas is OU’s new weight room and indoor turf. The space totals 30,000 square feet and is designed to accommodate as many student-athletes as possible. The 70-yard indoor turf is also functional with the latest equipment from Zybek Sports. Beneath the turf lies 2,000 pounds of steel forceplates, which combine with other technology to allow the OU strength staff to instantly measure times, forces and analyze cadence and movement. OU is the first university to feature such technology. There’s also expensive lighting on the ceiling, so no kicking or throwing is allowed.
Just outside the weight room is a snack station, where players can pick up pre- and post-workout supplements and other nutritional snacks. … Many of the spaces are shared with student-athletes from all sports. … OU’s Legacy Lobby, which will commemorate the history of OU athletics, is still being finished. … Lincoln Riley’s office is measured to be 1,800 square feet. … Construction for team facilities and renovated south end zone seating accounted for 1.2 million human hours’ worth of work. …. The entire project took more than two years to complete. … Total cost is estimated at $160 million.