Pulling Back the Curtain : Part 4

Austin Lewis, Staff Writer
Go Middle
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Sports Planning Guide

College athletic facilities have changed significantly since Middle Tennessee jumped to the football bowl subdivision almost twenty years ago. Professional quality locker rooms with players’ lounges with the latest video games are now expected. It is the result of a historic arms race to build the best athletic facility in the nation and gain the attention of the nation’s top athletes.

Fans also enjoy the benefits of the collegiate arms race. Luxury suites allow fans to watch the game from the comfort of an air conditioned room and fans boast about the size of their video board. Stadium-wide WiFi is no longer luxury, it is expected.

To put it bluntly, Middle Tennessee is behind.

Floyd Stadium needs a makeover. It’s way past time for Middle Tennessee to build an end zone facility in both end zones. It’s time for Middle Tennessee to have an indoor facility. Quite frankly, it is an embarrassment that Blue Raider seniors audition for the National Football League at in a high school indoor facility or are forced to drive to Nashville to workout at Tennessee State.

While Murphy Center enjoyed a $12 million facelift in 2015, the upgrades were largely cosmetic. They failed to substantially build luxury suites and failed to install a arena-wide WiFi. The athletic offices located below the arena need to be upgraded and expanded.

Softball, tennis, and soccer facility need basic essentials. The women’s soccer facility has no permanent restroom forcing athletes to use portable facilities. The women’s softball stadium needs a new scoreboard and the tennis team needs a locker room.

During our meeting, Massaro laid out his plan to upgrade the facilities.

The first major project will be the completion of a $20-30 million dollar football operations center. The facility provided the players and coaches the opportunity to perform at a higher level and show recruits that Middle Tennessee is committed to success. The facility will also allow the football offices to move out of Murphy Center and create opportunities for other programs within the athletic department.

A $15-25 million indoor practice facility would provide a practice field for football, soccer, baseball, and softball during the thunderstorms, excessive heat, and winter weather. An indoor track would add $4-5 million to the project’s cost and it is uncertain if the indoor track will be included in the facility.

Some less costly facility improvements are also in the pipeline, beginning with the replacement of the Floyd Stadium lighting. The $1.5 million dollar project will replace the current lights with LED fixtures which will reduce energy consumption and create opportunities for theatrical lighting. The project is scheduled to begin next summer.

The athletic department lost three tennis courts during the widening of Middle Tennessee Boulevard and, given the condition of the remaining courts, the athletic department has decided the best course of action is to build a new tennis complex closer Greenland Drive parking lot. Phase 1 of the new facility includes ten courts with raised observation seating while Phase 2 will include the construction of a tennis operations facility. A start date has not been determined.

Relocation of the Murphy Center control room, replacement of the scoreboards in Floyd Stadium and Murphy Center, and a new court in Alumni Memorial Gym for the volleyball are planned but do not have a start date at this time.

There are plans to improve fan experience on game day. Massaro hopes to hammer away at the WiFi in the Floyd Stadium and Murphy Center, but the university's plans for campus-wide WiFi have slowed the process down. He also hopes to construct a luxury suites in Murphy Center which will create an additional revenue stream for the athletic department.

Middle Tennessee Board of Trustees has already shown a willingness to work alongside the athletic department to create additional revenue streams and many have supported Middle Tennessee athletics in the past.

Oh, and one more thing, get your checkbooks ready - Massaro hopes to reveal the Middle Tennessee athletic facility master plan this fall.

FULL PROJECT SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN - TIMELINES AND COST ESTIMATES:

FOOTBALL OPERATIONS FACILITY:

This project would create a dedicated home for the Football program. Coaches offices, meeting rooms, video production, weight room & training equipment, and student/athlete dining hall with a potential premiums seating component.

The design could be a standalone building with the ability to attach an indoor practice area, which would consist of 100-year artificial turf and temperature controlled environment.

Locations are TBD as a feasibility study is currently underway. Estimated range could be $20-40 million depending on location, furnishings, impact of current stadium footprint and final designs.

Project schedule is TBD.

Once the project is moved forward by design, it will trigger a capital plan to enhance several other sports and administrative support divisions due to the back fill space vacated in Murphy Center including premium spaces. Currently under review as part of the university master plan athletic study.

REPLACEMENT OF THE "BUCK BOULDIN" OUTDOOR TENNIS FACILITY:

The design study of the 10-court relocation plan was completed in Fall 2016.

Phase 1 is estimated to cost $5 million.

Schedule of this project is TBD, but will not start until the completion of the Middle Tennessee Blvd project, which is slated to to finish in Fall 2018.

REPLACEMENT OF FLOYD STADIUM LIGHTING:

The project will replace antiquated bulb fixtures that were installed in 1998.

The proposed LED fixtures will be considered Green Technology to reduce energy & repair cost, while creating the ability of theatrical and remote control features.

The four light poles existing in the stadium already will require some repairs but will be reused.

Project slated for Summer 2018.

RELOCATION &TECHNOLOGY UPGRADE OF MURPHY CENTER CONTROL ROOM:

This project will include a new scoreboard and video control system for the basketball programs.

Estimated project cost is $500K.

Timeline is TBD.

ADDITIONAL PLANS FOR FUTURE SCOREBOARD REPLACEMENTS:

All projects are TBD from a timeline perspective.

Football HD/4K LED Display - $1 million estimated cost.

Baseball HD/4K LED Display - $350K estimated cost.

Softball HD/4K LED Display - $250K.

AMG & MC AUXILIARY GYM COURT REPLACEMENTS/ENHANCEMENTS:

Timeline for these projects is slated for 2019.

The AMG volleyball wood floor replacement carries an estimated cost of $125K.

MC Auxiliary Gym 1 wood elevation and complete replacement carries an estimated cost of $125K.

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