As part of the athletics spending spree, Clemson is building a new $63 million Football Operations Complex. It is the next project in a line of buildings that has seen Clemson continue to compete in the college football arm's race. A lot of questions have been asked about if this facility is really needed and what purpose it will serve. The simple fact is that it is a necessity.
The thinking process behind the new facility is the same process that led to the hiring of Thad Turnipseed. Dabo wants to bring Clemson into the space age in terms of facilities and recruiting. On signing day, Dabo told reporters that his "vision was to build a village, to create a support system." This new facility will encompass all aspects of that support system and of the recruiting department that Turnipseed runs.
One of the reasons for the new facility is convenience. Currently, the coaches' offices and the locker room are in the West End Zone. Since practice time is limited by the NCAA, valuable time is spent ferrying the players from the locker room to the practice fields every single day. Plus, no one really wants to pile into a golf cart trolly with full pads on every single day. The new complex will be right next to the practice fields, so time won't be wasted in transit. The coaches will also have new offices in the facility. The now vacant offices will be used by coaches from the other sports so Jervey and McFadden can be re-purposed into an athletics museum.
Having the everyday locker rooms in the new complex, rather than at the stadium, will also improve the gameday experience for players. Suiting up in the West End Zone will only happen seven times a season. It will be a special experience and reflect the gravity of the moment, the privilege they have to wear and play for the paw. It helps feed into Dabo's ideology of being "All In."
So besides locker rooms and offices what will the new complex have? It will catapult Clemson firmly into the lead group of schools in the college football arms race. It is absolutely necessary for the program to have these facilities if Clemson wants to reach the highest levels and compete with programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, etc.
Clemson will also seek to add plenty of player amenities to the new facility. Since South Carolina has a two-lane bowling alley and Florida State has a a movie theater in theirs, I think Clemson will try to emulate that. Other activities, video games, arcade games, etc. might also be included. It might seem a bit frivolous but this is the recruiting age we live in. The idea behind these football operations facilities is to not only provide players the best facility for football activities, but also to give them a place to hang out after practice with their team mates. It helps promote team bonding and allows the players to develop those relationships that will help them trust their team mates on the football field.
Clemson could also seek to copy the College Football Hall of Fame and implement interactive screens filled with player stats, Clemson history, highlight videos, and more. When you arrive at the Hall of Fame you receive a badge. You then program the badge and select your favorite team. Whenever you move in front of a screen it will show something about your selected team. Clemson wants to incorporate similar technology in the new complex. Players would be able to view their stats, stats of past players, highlights, historical tidbits, and more.
At this stage of the planning process things may change. There are likely to be some additional amenities added to the building and a few of the current plans may be scrapped in favor of better ideas. Regardless of what is included, this is clearly a major investment by the university into the program; an investment that we as fans haven't seen in decades. If this type of investment is any indication, Clemson doesn't plan on going away.