Tressel Unveils Newly Renovated Facility to Reporters
By John Porentas
Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel escorted a contingent of media through the nearly-completed renovation of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Thursday.
Tressel's guided tour lasted nearly two hours, a tour which took the group into every nook and cranny of what is essentially a new football facility. The group of about 25 reporters and camera men got a glimpse of what 21.5 million dollars can do for a building, the final cost of the project according to Tressel. The words that come to mind in describing the final product are opulent to borderline decadent.
The project that Tressel described as an attempt to improve the teaching environment leaves you with your mouth agape at times. A stunning architectural and graphics package makes the place a giant piece of eye candy. Graphics, finely finished woods, polished metals, thematic displays and stained glass are at every turn along the way.
Tressel's goal of more teaching space was most certainly achieved. The facility formerly had one team meeting room which was large enough to accommodate the entire team and a series of smaller meeting rooms which allowed each position coach to conduct meetings and teach. Those room also doubled as offices for each assistant coach. The rooms were smallish for some of the groups and afforded little privacy for the coach. All that is now changed.
Each coach now has a roomy, state of the art meeting room as well as a private office in a separate area of the building in which he can make calls, do paper work and meet with players on an individual basis if need be. The team meeting room still exists, but two more large meeting rooms have been added, one large enough to accommodate the entire offense and the other large enough to accommodate the entire defense so those units can meet as group, something they could not do before.
That's just for starters, because for 21.5 million, you can get just a little more than meeting rooms and offices.
The total addition ended up at 53,000 square feet of new space, space which houses an updated training room, an enlarged and improved weight room, separate facilities for print media and electronic media, a coaches emeritus office, a half-court basketball facility which doubles as a place for team meals at the WHAC, a racquetball court and a player's lounge that includes video games, pool tables, flat-screen TVs, an "X-box arena" with seating for nine contestants in front of three screens and (this is not a typo) a corn-hole center.
The place is stunning. Unfortunately, you're not likely to see too much of it. Most of the 54,000 square feet of new construction is strictly off-limits to television and still photographers and will not be made available for tour to the general public. If you want to see it, you have to know somebody. According to OSU Director of Sports information Dan Wallenberg, the ban of photography of all sorts comes directly from Tressel. That is, apparently, how the head man wants it, so that's the way it is.
It's pretty tough to describe the look of the place, though a small portion will be open to the public. The new atrium at the east end of the building now houses the Heisman Hall and is open to all comers, but pretty much the rest of the building is off limits. Media will have access to a bit more. They will have access to the Archie Griffin media center just inside the atrium area. The media center includes interview space, a media lounge and a media comfort center that includes microwave, refrigerator, wireless internet connection and workspaces for reporters.
The facility is nearly complete, but according to Tressel will not have all the final touches put on it until around the first of September. Crews are still doing final decorating, post-construction cleanup, etc.
The facility is currently available to players from 5:00 AM until 7:00 PM. When the security system is complete however, it will be open to players 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to Tressel, the security system has not yet been completed due to budgetary concerns.
WHAC Tour with Jim Tressel Highlights
New Atrium - The new atrium was open for photography and the photos speak for themselves. the-Ozone photographer Jim Davidson has posted a photo gallery where you can see for yourself just how stunning this area is.
Media Center - The Archie Griffin media center will allow print and electronic media to conduct separate interviews, something that makes the members of the media smile. Television and radio reporters have the duty of getting sound bytes, while writers are trying to ferret out stories. Sometime those two goals clash. The ability to separate those two groups should allow for better coverage by both. The separation of the two groups should also make the interview process a bit more pleasant experience for those being interviewed. They will not be crowded by as many reporters at one time and will be able to answer questions more comfortably. That area too was photographed by Jim Davidson and is a part of the photo gallery.
Coaches Emeritus Office: That office is adjacent to the media center. It contains one desk (apparently to be shared) and a video viewing screen. It is a relatively modest office of perhaps 175 square feet.
Theme Bays: The walls along the north wall have thematic displays along them between the doors to the coaches offices. One of the more interesting displays includes the logo of each NFL team and a plaque bearing the name of every Buckeye to have played for that franchise. Other bays include a tribute to Woody Hayes, tributes to All-Americans, an academic excellence bay, an OSU vs. Michigan display, a famous OSU alumnus display and even a media coverage bay which featured items such as enlarged Sports Illustrated magazine covers featuring Ohio State.
Memorabilia and Tradition: Though it is not yet on display, there will be a chalk board under glass bearing notes actually written by Woody Hayes. The board was found in a campus building and bears notes Hayes wrote while planning to write a book, a book that was never written due to his death. Also on display are mementos sent to the football program from Iraq and other war zones which Tressel described as the "Salute to the Troops" bay. The stairwell going up to the team lounge is decorated with images depicting the evolution of the OSU football uniform.
House Rules: According to Tressel, a committee of staff and players was appointed whose purpose was to formulate "house rules" for each area of the building. Those rules are posted on signs designated as "House Rules" in each of those areas. In the team meeting room, for instance, cell phones are not permitted and persons may not enter wearing apparel from another team. Hats are prohibited and shirts must be worn. In the player's lounge, no one is admitted who hasn't showered after practice, though there is now a smaller player lounge where players may go to relax a bit without showering.
Training Room: The new training room is the only room in the facility for which Tressel does not have a key. Since medications are stored there, law prescribes that only physicians and registered trainers may have a key to this room.
The new training room features an underwater treadmill which provides support for players while jogging thus reducing stress on joints. That pool also has an adjustable current which essentially increases and decreases resistance. Additionally, an athlete using that facility is filmed and can see himself on a monitor so he can monitor his stride length, etc.
The training room also has two plunge pools, one hot and one cold, used by players after practice sessions to limit or prevent injuries and soreness.
Weight Room: The new weight room covers between 15,000 and 16,000 square feet on the main floor and has an additional 1,400 square foot balcony on which is located aerobic training equipment such as stationary bikes and ellipticals. The room is significantly larger than the old facility, and while the amount of equipment available to athletes rose by about 25%, it is now spread out over a much larger area. The room features graphics on the walls and numerous "countdown clocks" on which athletes can time the length of their rest intervals between various exercise sets. According to Tressel, strength coach Eric Lichter allows no-more than one minute between sets.
Basketball Court/Team Room: The half-court basketball room was outfitted with a number of large round tables with chairs around them during the tour. Tressel explained that the room would be used for team meals a couple of times a week just to provide the players some variety in their eating surroundings and menu. A kitchen adjacent to the area will be used to prepare the meals which will consist of burgers, etc. On days on which the team does not eat in that room, they will eat at the Fawcet Center dining facility.
Player's Lounge: According to Tressel, one of the goals of the building is to give players incentive to spend more time in it. That, according to Tressel, is the purpose of the player's lounge. It has lounging areas, two full-sized pool tables, foos-ball, an x-box arena, flat-screen TVs, and even a corn hole hall for tossing bean bags into targets.
Players may use the lounge on an ad hoc basis, but planned activities are also being held. The first was a "Woody Date Night" which included ball-room dancing and movies. Tressel quipped that around 65 players were able to scrape up dates for the event, a number which surprised him. "I was shocked," he said. "I wouldn't have bet on some of them," he said with a smirk.
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