UA shows off new facilities
TUSCALOOSA | You name it, they probably have it, And if they don't, it's probably on the to-do list.
Leaving no stoned unturned to meet a championship student-athlete's wants, needs and desires, the University of Alabama's latest football facility upgrade comes with all the bells and whistles in terms of technology, function and grandeur.
The new locker room comes complete with power outlets in each locker. The player lounge has arcade games, a pool table, table tennis and foosball. The team meeting room seats 212 in the comfort of black leather-wrapped chairs with a crimson script 'A' and a flip-up desk at every station. Position meeting rooms are adorned with photo murals on the wall and overhead projectors for game film.
And that doesn't even include the waterfalls.
Off the locker room are new hydrotherapy pools, two of them, each with two waterfalls.
It sounds like a theme park, but these amenities are just the most recent additions to the Mal Moore Football Building, the latest luxuries for players at the nation's premier powerhouse program.[rl]
The upgrades mark the second major addition completed this year. A new $9 million, 37,000 square-foot weight room opened in January.
The renovation took five months, completed by Harrison Construction and designed by Davis Architects.
Gatorade fountains, or hydration fountains as UA Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Jeff Allen refers to them, pop up across the facility, and there is a nutrition bar with fruits and healthy goodies.
An array of flat-screen televisions await around almost every corner. Team captains police the player lounge with a charge of keeping the area "like new," Allen said. Arcade games, including one where a player can sit on a motorcycle and guide it through a virtual racing course, are all free of charge to the players.
The hydrotherapy pools, a hot pool ranging from 102 to 106 degrees and a cold tub with water chilled to 60 to 65 degrees, are interchangeable, each able to both be hot or cold.
"We generally use the hot tub before practice, the cold tub after practice," Allen said.
The desired goal wasn't necessarily to impress - although UA coach Nick Saban seemingly does everything with recruiting in mind - but rather function.
"We have five (Gatorade dispensers) on the floor in various locations," Allen said. "Our general rule of thumb is that players don't enter a meeting room without something to drink in their hand."
A shrine with framed jerseys of the 14 Saban-era players selected in the first round of the National Football League Draft line the hall that players walk as they make their way to their respective position meeting rooms, a daily reminder of what can be accomplished.
At the center of the facility is an atrium connecting different parts of the building, the walls dressed with artwork of Alabama's most recent three national championship rings: 2009, 2011, 2012.
Stalls for shoulder pads are ventilated to help dry the pads after practice. There is a temperature-controlled room to dry cleats.
A spacious training room meets the needs for everything from bumps and bruises to concussions and rehabilitation, including an anti-gravity treadmill. Allen said Eddie Lacy and Barrett Jones benefited from the anti-gravity treadmill during their respective rehabilitation last season.
"We've had this for a year now. We purchased it when Eddie Lacy had his toe injury," Allen said. "What this allows us to do is take a guy and run them at a lower percentage of their body weight. Theoretically, if you weigh 200 pounds, I can put you in here and set this to run you at what it would feel like to run at 50 pounds."
The combined result of the upgrades gives players the experience of luxury while helping them become better athletes.
"This has been a great addition," Allen said.
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.