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IU football facilities looking better

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

By CLIFF BRUNT

AP Sports Writer

BLOOMINGTON -- Indiana coach Bill Lynch is glad that the school known for its basketball success splurged on the football program.

The $25 million Memorial Stadium North End Zone project is near completion, and its facilities are in use.

It includes what the school calls the largest strength and conditioning center in the nation. The new weight room is 25,000 square feet, about five times the size of the old one.

The renovation enclosed the north end zone of the stadium, added a scoreboard and provided the football program with meeting areas and space for coaches' offices.

Lynch showed off the improvements Tuesday.

"I really do think the number one thing about the facility is that it shows a commitment to football here at Indiana," he said. "I think that is so important. I think it's something that, quite honestly, has probably been lacking, certainly from a facility standpoint in the past."

The football program has been in its new offices for the past two weeks. Just having windows is a plus, since the old offices were underground.

"It was kind of like a bunker," Lynch said. "You didn't know if it was raining or snowing."

In a meeting before the project was approved in 2006, former IU president Adam Herbert called the school's athletic facilities "probably the worst in the Big Ten" and said improvements were long overdue.

Athletic Director Fred Glass said he called former athletic director Rick Greenspan the day after he moved into his new office and left him a voice mail telling him how much he appreciated his vision. Glass, the athletic director for less than a year, gets to enjoy the fruits of decisions made before he arrived.

"I didn't have anything to do with this place," he said. "It was Rick, Adam, and a lot of other people who are still around this university."

The players are excited.

"It looks good," defensive end Greg Middleton said. "It's going to bring more people into the stadium, more students, and just everybody. It will be a more lively atmosphere than it has been in the past."

There also is a 22,000 square foot academic center which replaces the previous 3,000-square-foot facility.

"This is about the student athlete," Lynch said. "It's not going up and looking up at suites they'll never use."

The strength and conditioning center has only half its weights, but the facility has enough for the entire football team to lift at the same time. The center is available to all the school's student athletes.

Lynch said a key element is the proximity of all the facilities.

"I think what you'll see is a tremendous layout for our student athletes, and that's really what this thing is all about," he said. "The layout is fantastic."

Seating capacity at the stadium has increased by 300, to 52,692.

Lynch said the construction helped attract this year's newcomers.

"The group that we signed that are true freshmen right now, that came on campus two weeks ago -- the vision of the new stadium probably helped, but they couldn't really see it."

Lynch said the work had a more profound effect on the high school class of 2010.

"The group that we have verbally committed, they saw much more of a finished product," he said. "It certainly has helped quite a bit."



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