As fall football camp comes roaring around the corner the University of Tennessee athletic and head coach Derek Dooley are nearing completion of the new 145,000-square foot football training facility.
The newest cornerstone of the Tennessee football program features an amphitheater-style team room, coaches offices, position meeting rooms, a dining hall, players' lounge, a 7,000-square foot locker room, a 22,000-square foot, multi-level weight room as well as a new training room and hydrotherapy area.
Dooley, who accompanied local media members for a tour of the facility, noted that the new facility will be the ultimate recruiting tool for the Vols coaching staff in the future.
“There is no other program in the country, that if you are willing to put it in, that is the key, if you are willing to do it that can give you more resource to reach your potential than Tennessee,” Dooley said. “That is ultimately what Tennessee can do because of the support, the fans and the money that comes in. It allows us to give back through resources.”
While Dooley knows that the Vols new facility is state-of-the-art, he also acknowledges that it won’t single-handily ink the top high school prospects in the country. However, it could create interest from those otherwise not considering dawning the Orange and White at the next level.
“It is not going to sign a recruit, but what it does to is it attracts players to campus, it shows a level of commitment and it generates a level of interest that you would not have it you didn’t have it,” he said. “Then ultimately they are going to sign because it is the right fit, the right coaches, and the people — that sort of thing. Maybe there are 10 to 20 more players you are in the hunt for that you wouldn’t otherwise be if you didn’t have this type facility.”
While most top-level Division I programs have similar facilities in square footage, what will set Tennessee’s new football training center apart – technology. The building features several technological upgrades, including a state-of-the-art video delivery system for players and coaches. The locker room includes, roomy, custom-built and ventilated lockers with electrical outlets for charging portable devices like cell phones, iPods and laptops.
“You could have built something this in 1980, but the difference is the technology we are using to help these guys be their best,” Dooley said. “I am proud of it. We are kind of building it in phases.
“The top floor was the priority because it is the coaches and the player meeting rooms. We are hoping to move in before the first game. Then it’s the second floor, which is the training room, weight room and locker room. I suspect by December (everything will be done) because that is when everyone has to move out of Stokley (Athletic Center).”
|Construction continues on the Tennessee Football Training Center.|
Upon completion of the project, the existing football space in the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center will be renovated to accommodate the approximately 110 athletic department employees currently housed in Stokely Athletics Center. Stokely must be vacated by December 2012.
Dooley added that following the demolition of Stokley Athletics Center, Tennessee would add two more practice fields to ensure more outdoor practice and less wear and tear on existing practice turf.
"The plan is when Stokely comes down, we push across and create two grass practice fields,'' Dooley said. "Then we have two fields down there and we have an outdoor field, probably a turf field."
The head coach added that the turf field would be available to other sports such as soccer in the event of in-climate weather such as rain.
"I really don't like going indoors unless its lightning," Dooley said. "Indoors is really good for training in the winter. So there's a lot of value to the indoors, but you have to work in the rain. You've got to work on playing in the elements."
You can see photos and video of Tennessee's new football training facility below: