A new weight room for Georgia Tech’s football team is not the highest priority for athletic director Todd Stansbury. The athletic department just finished renovating the locker room at a cost of $4.5 million, after all.
But, there is at least an idea for how the weight room could be renovated, and Stansbury told the AJC that “we do have some potential donors out there that would have an interest in that.”
One possible renovation would be to an expansion to the Hugh Spruill Strength Center, which is behind the south stands of Bobby Dodd Stadium. The project would knock out all or part of the south end-zone stands and look out onto the field. Coach Paul Johnson has kicked around the idea since the tenure of athletic director Dan Radakovich.
“Before, when Dan was here, we talked about taking those bleachers out in the end zone and knocking it out and glassing it all in and making it a little courtyard and making it kind of a scenic thing for game day,” Johnson said. “Open it up, get some light in there, some of that stuff.”
Johnson said that he hadn’t discussed it with Stansbury, but he’s clearly heard mention.
“I don’t know how feasible it is, but I really like the idea,” Stansbury said. “I really like that idea. And so, as we get into it, if we were able to identify funding, that would definitely be a concept that we would want to look at.”
At about 10,000 square feet, Tech’s weight room is dwarfed by Clemson’s, which is 23,000 square feet. Virginia Tech is in the midst of its own expansion, from 6,900 square feet to more than 12,300 square feet. The N.C. State weight room is 15,000 square feet. Duke’s is 9,800.
The expansion could also provide visual pop that would be a positive in recruiting, just as a primary objective of the locker-room renovation was to win the notice of prospects. The current weight room does not have natural lighting and has a relatively low ceiling. (It’s on the ground floor of the Wardlaw Center.) Pushing out the space to the field could at least address the matter of natural lighting, a feature that many (though not all) of Tech’s competitors have in their weight rooms.
Removing parts or all of the south stands would reduce Grant Field’s capacity, which, given Tech’s challenges to fill the stadium, might not be the worst outcome.
The weight room was most recently renovated in 2014, with new flooring, lighting, air-conditioning system, graphics, artwork and audio-visual equipment installed, as well as a fueling station. It serves most of Tech’s 17 varsity teams. A handful use the weight room at the Zelnak Basketball Center. Many of Tech’s football competitors have weight rooms that are designated as football-only.
Besides a new weight room, Johnson has also identified a new academic center as another item on his wish list in Tech’s attempts to keep up in the sport’s facilities “arms race” designed to woo recruits.
A weight-room renovation is not part of the athletic department’s $125 capital campaign. Among the facilities projects in the campaign are a proposed $70 million renovation of the Edge Center, new locker rooms for the basketball teams and a new on-campus studio for the ACC Network. But, if a donor steps forward with a check for a new weight room, Stansbury would gladly fast-track it.
“There’s a saying,” Stansbury said. “It’s something along the lines of, ‘A funded project becomes a priority project.’”
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