There's more than just a new national championship trophy in Florida State's football offices these days. There's also a new locker room, upgraded meeting rooms and coaches' offices and many more enhancements on the way as part of the largest fundraising project in Florida State athletics history.
FSU athletics director Stan Wilcox and Seminole Boosters president Andy Miller announced the public phase of the "Champions Campaign" at a press conference on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The eight-year, $250 million project is "right on track," Miller said. The project actually was launched privately in 2010 and will conclude in 2018.
"We want to continue to grow Florida State athletics, so we provide the best services we possibly can in all areas," Wilcox said. "From a purely athletics perspective, the goals we're discussing are requisite to maintain our national competitiveness in all sports. … It's going to help us with recruiting, going to help us with how we fare on the playing field, the practice field, and most importantly, in the classroom."
The project is designed to bring FSU's football facilities up to par with schools across the nation, providing student-athletes with the resources to compete. FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher said the upgraded locker room, new dorm for football players and indoor practice facility were among the most needed additions.
"I do think it puts us very equal (with other schools)," Fisher said. "Some people may have certain things a little better, but I think we have certain things a little better. I love the way our setup is, and I think it makes us very competitive with anyone in America."
The Champions Campaign will include an assessment of facility needs for all of FSU's athletic teams, but the first part of the projects focuses on football renovations. Those upgrades include the following:
- A new football players' residence, the "Champions Hall" apartment complex.
- An upgraded football locker room, coaches' offices, meeting rooms and players lounge with displays that focus on FSU history and traditions.
- FSU's indoor practice facility, the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility.
- Construction of the "Champions Club," a club level seating addition in the south end zone of Doak Campbell Stadium. The new seating is expected to be ready for the 2016 season.
- Additional upgrades to Doak Campbell Stadium to be funded by sales to the "Champions Club."
- Those additions are also expected to help Florida State continue to recruit on a national level.
"As a recruit you have the opportunity to visit the top football programs in the nation, you see all this glamorous stuff," FSU quarterback Jameis Winston said in a press release. "I loved Tallahassee, so that overruled some of that stuff, but we do need to build facilities and new dorms so we can attract young players, because that's all they look for."
The Champions Campaign also calls for enhancements to the Donald L. Tucker Center for FSU men's and women's basketball, but specific plans and funding for those upgrades were not announced on Wednesday. Plans for the Tucker Center will be decided after the overall assessment of FSU's facilities is completed this fall.
Construction on the club level seating in Doak Campbell Stadium is expected to begin immediately after the 2015 season. Seats in the club level will require a one-time $1,000 donation to the campaign along with $1,500 for each seat. That price would include the cost for tickets, a food credit and a full weekend experience for fans.
In the long term, FSU athletics and Seminole Boosters also hope to grow the athletic scholarship endowment from about $50 million to $190 million. An endowment of that level, earning a 5 percent return, would be able to fully fund the current cost of scholarships for all 20 sports at Florida State.
Many effects of the campaign are already being felt. FSU's new football offices, housing three Heisman trophies at the entrance, were close to being finished on Wednesday. The locker room was also nearly complete, and players are expected to move into the new dorm this weekend.
"When you're asking guys to bypass eight, 10, 12 very good schools to get to your school and, 'Why should I come here? What can you do for me?' It's the first thing they get," Fisher said. "What we're trying to do is make a complete package from A to Z of everything that touches them: where they live, where they work out, where they eat, where they practice. Everything about it is first class, so they know the commitment to excellence and the standard."
Publication originally featured on Warchant.com.