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Utah football: Utes move into their new digs

Published July 9, 2013 1:22 pm

College football • New center boasts over 120,000 square feet of offices, training facilities and meeting rooms
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham has long touted the need for a new football complex to keep pace with the facility race in the Pac-12.

Well, Whittingham has his building now, plus a few great views.

While others were taking a break during the holiday weekend, Whittingham and his staff were moving into the new $32 million football facility located by the Spence Eccles Field House on Guardsman Way.

The building, which covers more than 120,000 square feet, boasts a training room, cafeteria, offices, meeting spaces, equipment areas and more.

Whittingham broke ground on the new facility in March of 2012 by blasting through the walls of the old Dee Glen Smith Center, which was built in 1991, with an excavator.

Now, he hopes the facility will help the Utes blast through the stronghold of recruiting areas in the Pac-12.

"It is extremely vital for us," Whittingham said of the building earlier this summer. "You can't underestimate the impact such a facility has for recruiting, for functioning as a football team, for everything."

The center houses a 17,000-square-foot sports medicine clinic which boasts hydrotherapy pools and other state-of-the-art equipment that all teams will use. But for the most part, the building will be used by the football team, which in the past has worked out of the Dee Glen Smith Center and the Alex Smith Strength and Conditioning Center, which also has been expanded.

While there was enough weight equipment and the like to keep the players in shape, the facilities were insufficient for a team to hold daily functions such as meetings and dining events as a group.

Now, instead of having lunch outside under a tent because of a lack of indoor space, the Utes can dine in a 250-seat cafeteria.

The team will also enjoy a 6,500-square-foot locker room and a 3,600-square-foot players' lounge that is equipped with flat-screen TVs, group study areas and game areas.

A two-level observation deck overlooks the practice fields and the Salt Lake Valley. Inside, coaches have over 47,000 square feet of office and meeting space at their disposal.

While the space might sound luxurious, particularly for a program still short on funds compared with its foes in the Pac-12, investing in such a building is exactly what the Utes needed to do to be competitive in a BCS conference, Utah athletic director Chris Hill has maintained.

Oregon, USC and Arizona have all spent $68 million or more in recent years to upgrade their football facilities.

The Utes' football facility is just a chunk of the $64.2 million the Utes have invested in upgrades, which include $24 million for a basketball facility, $4.2 million for a new softball complex, $2.5 million for track upgrades and $1.5 million for an outdoor tennis facility.

"We had to make some big investments, but by year four [in the Pac-12], we are going to be on our way to being in the middle of the league or better by the standard of most facilities," Hill said earlier of the upgrades.