With spring practice over, the locker room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center is off-limits to anyone who isn’t wearing a hard hat. A football helmet doesn’t count.
A $2.5 million renovation project for Ohio State’s football practice facility is in the works, the aim of which is to keep the facility among the elite nationally. Though some remodeling was done during an expansion in 2006, the locker room has been relatively unchanged since the primary building opened in 1987.
“Everything we’ve done has been training table, weight room, training room, and now the locker room,” coach Urban Meyer said about the major enhancements since he took over in late 2011. “I always tell our players and the guys we recruit, ‘We’re going to coach you hard.’ You’ve been to our practices. It’s sometimes unpleasant, and it’s hard.
“But if we expect the best out of them, they should expect the best out of the facilities we offer them. I don’t need a bigger office. We’re going to spend the money on enhancing the experience for the student-athletes.”
In the next six weeks, the FieldTurf surfaces in Ohio Stadium, on one of the outdoor practice fields and on the indoor field are being replaced at a cost of $1.069 million. The latter two, in place since 2003 and 2004, respectively, have exceeded their eight-year lifespan, said Don Patko, associate athletic director in charge of facilities operations.
“It is an aggressive schedule, but something working in our favor is we are not in need of redoing the base for any of those fields for drainage,” Patko said. “So it’s essentially a carpet replacement.”
The Ohio Stadium surface is only about seven years old, but Patko said the department is saving about $400,000 — almost the cost of one field — by getting all three done together.
There are projects on top of projects at Ohio Stadium. Work began in January on an expansion of the south stands, adding about 2,600 seats with wings off the east and west ends over the ramps. Patko said work to add a lighting system above the east and west sides of the stadium is on track. Both are to be completed by Aug. 1 at a cost of $8.9 million.
At the same time, workers are completing a $4.8 million waterproofing project on the 1922-vintage concrete in portions of the stadium that was started last year.
Not that all of the projects, which are funded by the athletic department, are about the football team. A new soccer practice field is going in west of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at a cost of $670,000.
“We’ve done a lot of new scoreboards,” Patko said, pointing out the $680,000 model put in at Bill Davis Stadium (baseball) last year, and new boards — at about $500,000 apiece — put in this year at Buckeye Field (softball) and Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium (track, soccer and lacrosse). “All of these new scoreboards have video capabilities and brand new sound systems.”
As far as the football locker room, Meyer said the renovation was needed.
“First, we’re rearranging the configuration. It was kind of chopped up before,” Meyer said of the original boomerang shape. “Now it’s going to be more of a central location, more of an open area.
“The other thing is we spend an inordinate amount of time on the use of hot tubs and cold tubs (as a way of treating players after practices and workouts). We’re spending a lot of time and effort getting that facility right.”
Part of the new ambience will be a water-wall between the locker room and the therapy and training area. A lounge and a nutrition area also are in the plan.
“We have to have all of that done by July,” Patko said, also pointing out a brighter lighting system for the indoor field. “So we’re working pretty hard on all of these.”