IU Athletic Director Fred Glass walked through a maze of half-finished rooms and hallways Wednesday afternoon, each step filled with a little more excitement and giddiness than the last. During a behind-the-scenes tour of the new south end zone complex, which is still under construction, Glass laid out his vision of the $53 million project to select local media members.
In an effort to enhance IU’s student-athletes academically, athletically and physically, Glass has big plans for the complex, which is set to complete Memorial Stadium’s “Circle of Excellence.”
Here are five takeaways from the tour:
1. Glass sees the new south end zone plaza as being a “welcoming front door to campus.”
Once construction is finished, fans will have a grand entrance to the south side of Memorial Stadium. Glass said he hopes the plaza, which will face Seventeenth St. and the tailgating fields near Fess and Woodlawn avenues, will have a “quad-like” feel.
“I know we will have a major piece of public art and hope that this area becomes a gathering place, not unlike the Sample Gates or Showalter Fountain, where people would gather for major events on the athletics campus,” Glass said. “Maybe it’s after a commencement or a big win or maybe just to hang out, but our donor was very interested in helping create an environment that would be similar to the Sample Gates, Showalter Fountain, the Arboretum here on the athletics campus because it’s a natural gathering spot. That’s something I think we really lacked before.”
2. IU will have one of the most state of the art rehab and treatment facilities in all of college sports.
One of the more impressive additions to the complex is a new rehab and treatment center for student-athletes. At 10,000 square feet, the new center will be over three times as big as the last one and will feature top-notch hydrotherapy equipment such as hot and cold tubs, a lap pool and an underwater treadmill. Glass says he wants the center, which has wall-to-ceiling windows facing the field, to have a “positive atmosphere” for athletes who may be going through a treacherous rehabilitation process.
“It can be a real drudgery working back from those injuries or dealing with training and the exercises they are put through, even mundane things like taping ankles,” Glass said. “The athletic trainers will have great space here, and they’ve got windows on the world to see what’s going on. We’ve got the space we need to really bring our kids back from injuries in a way that I’m not really sure any other place has anything like this.”
The rehab center will be just one part of the Dr. Lawrence D. Rink Center for Medicine and Technology. The Rink Center will also feature the Irsay Family Wellness Clinic, which will have professional doctors, athletic trainers, psychologists and nutritionists on hand, along with the Tobias Nutrition Center that has a dining area overlooking the field.
3. There will be a big focus on developing student-athletes’ leadership and life skills.
Along with the Rink Center, another major aspect of the complex will be Hancock Hiltunen Caito Center for Leadership and Life Skills. This space will provide resources such as career counseling, interview training, networking and resume building for both current and former IU student-athletes.
It will also feature the Glass Family Student-Athlete Leadership Suite, which will provide offices for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
“I don’t think anybody else dedicates actual real estate to leadership and life skills the way we do,” Glass said.
4. The new Sample Terrace will be a popular attraction for fans.
One of the more fan-friendly aspects of the complex will be the Sample Terrace. At the top of the complex under the new scoreboard will be a new terrace which will provide a place for parents to take their kids during games. The terrace will replace Knothole Park as a family-friendly spot at Memorial Stadium. However, Knothole Park will still exist at the terrace and will feature “combine-like” activities for kids ages 12 and under to participate in. They can also join the “Knothole Club” with a wallet-sized membership card.
Glass said the terrace will also feature large block letters that spell out “Indiana," which will be 10 feet high and 170 feet across, which Glass said he hopes will be a popular photo spot for fans.
The terrace will be open to any patron with a ticket.
5. Everything is bigger and better.
One thing is for certain, everything from the rehab center to the scoreboards are getting bigger. While the rehab center is growing over three times in size, there’s plenty of other features that will be growing rapidly.
In the Tobias Nutrition Center, the kitchen will be doubling in size from 2,500 square feet to 5,000. Even the new scoreboard above the south end zone is much bigger than the old one.
“We think it’s going to be great for ours fans to have not one, but two jumbotrons, jumbo senior and jumbo junior, and a matching ribbon board to complement the one in the north end zone,” Glass said. “We think the total surface of our scoreboards is as big as any in the Big Ten and nationally.”
Construction on the end zone is set to be finished by IU’s first home game of the 2018 season against Virginia at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8.
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