One day the arch way above the entrance to the John McKay Center—USC’s new 110,000-square-foot, $70 million athletic facility—will read “Through this portal walk the greatest athletes in the world.”
“It’s a brash statement, but one I think we can live up,” said senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson. He has been the project manager for the behemoth that has been slowly taking shape in the center of campus for the past year. Set to finish by July and be ready for fall camp, it not only will solve the current issues facing the Trojans’ athletic facilities but set the standard for programs around the country.
Jackson and head athletic director Pat Haden travelled across the country looking at different collegiate and NFL training facilities. They hired consulting firms. They talked to current student-athletes and coaches. There wasn’t an inch of the building that was not discussed and carefully planned.
If you’ve been to Heritage Hall recently, you know that it’s become more of a disadvantage than an advantage when it comes to not only providing for current-student athletes, but for recruiting new ones. Sure, the six Heismans placed in the center of the building hold some merit, but the rest of the building is out of date and cramped.
Now, they have 110,000 square feet of space that has been carefully designed to tell the story of USC athletics to anyone who walks in. A television screen covering 15 square feet will greet everyone who enters the lobby. On it will be creative content that features current student-athletes from all 21 sports, live events and even a video game being played of a current athlete during a downtime. The screen is even visible from the second story, in what will be called the Marv Goux recruiting lounge.
Ah yes, recruiting. With this building, USC will not only be able to be competitive against comparable D-I programs, teams will find themselves blown out of the water.
Imagine the main floor of an entire building devoted to academic support and outdoor patios for eating around a fire pit.
Picture iPads built flush into every football locker and a player’s lounge designed by 10 current athletes. They can nap, do homework or play video games, all under the watchful eye of the administration.
Think about a basement that features state-of-the-art rehabilitation and injury-prevention technology complete with doctors' offices for those visiting from the University Hospital. Next to that is the weight room now eight times the size of the Trojan’s current facility and a turf field so different, teams can train, test and work out simultaneously.
Lastly, conjure an image of a comprehensive nutrition center that will not only ensure athletes get the proper supplements to recover from strenuous workouts, but will provide cooking lessons and instructions for healthy living beyond the walls of the McKay Center.
Now, you have nearly the complete picture of what every single recruit and current athlete will get when they walk into the McKay Center in a few months.
On the outside, the athletic department decided to install an intramural field so that the entire school will feel like they own the space. Not only will it be larger than the one that they had to destroy to build the McKay Center in a prime location, it will be a turf field to ensure that it will hold up to constant use.
It’s too good to be true.
But thanks to famous donors such as Mark Sanchez, Ryan Kalil and Keyshawn Johnson (just to name a few), it will be a reality before Matt Barkley graduates.
In 2012, the Trojans will get a chance to display their athletic glory with a fresh start. USC will send several more athletes to the Olympics (around 30 are eligible to compete in trials in various sports), prepare the football team for a postseason again, move into their new space and then slowly begin renovating Heritage Hall.
People will soon forget things like sanctions and probation. There will too much going on to think about the past.
With this building, a new era of Trojan athletics begins.
Stephanie Graves is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless noted, all quotes and information are collected personally.
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