Monday, Apr 15, 2024

College football teams are dropping millions on state-of-the-art locker rooms. Here are some of the most jaw-dropping upgrades.

University of Georgia Bulldogs Football Facility
University of Georgia Bulldogs football facility
  • College football teams are investing in luxurious facilities.
  • They're using swanky new locker rooms and training facilities to impress young players.
  • A lot of the new upgrades are geared toward comfort and fun.

It is no secret that big-time college football teams make a lot of money for their schools. Some of the excess is being pumped into the facilities — and they're starting to look more like luxury resorts.

Of the 1,062 colleges and universities that field varsity athletic teams under the banner of the NCAA, only 396 — fewer than half — made at least $10 million off their sports teams in 2022, the most recent year with available data from the Department of Education. Only 56 — about 5% — made at least $100 million.

Men's and women's basketball teams are often profitable at the schools that make the most money, but the vast majority of the revenue typically comes from football teams. So, the revenue is often pumped back into the football program to build swanky facilities to help sway potential recruits.

When the University of Texas renovated its locker room, former head coach Tom Herman spoke about the relationship between high-end facilities and recruiting.

"This locker room shows we have the very best tools in the country," Herman said. "The lockers affect recruiting because the kids we're recruiting are the same ones that some of the best schools in the nation are recruiting. A scholarship is a scholarship is a scholarship, no matter where you go. It's about how you differentiate yourself."

Below, we look at some of the locker rooms built in recent years at the top college football programs.

The University of Texas spent $7 million renovating their football locker room

Texas Longhorns Locker Room
Texas Longhorns Locker Room.

In 2019, the University of Texas spent $10 million renovating its athletic center, and $7 million went to the football locker room alone.

The stars of the show were new custom-designed lockers that cost about $8,700 each, made by Longhorn Lockers, a company that has also made lockers for other top programs, including Clemson, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, and Stanford.

The lockers are stainless steel instead of wood, which allows them to have an anti-bacterial feature and reduces odors. Each locker also has its own 37-inch television on top, which is basically just the world's most expensive nameplate.

Other high-end features in the Texas lockers include special ventilation and fans.

Texas Longhorns Locker Room
Texas Longhorns Locker Room

The lockers come with plenty of bells and whistles to meet the needs of football players.

The rack at the top of the locker holds the pads and helmet. The helmet holder has a fan to help dry the sweaty helmets, and the locker itself has special ventilation to suck the odors out of the room, an important feature in a modern football locker room.

In 2023, the University of Florida opened its new $85 million football training facility and locker room

Florida Gators football locker room
Florida Gators football locker room

The lockers at the new University of Florida football facility were also designed by Longhorn Lockers, or the "Mercedes Benz of lockers."

The chairs recline all the way into a "zero-gravity" position that is supposed to remove pressure from all joints.

The football team is endorsed by Nike's Jordan Brand, so the Michael Jordan "Jumpman" logo is featured prominently.

Longhorn Lockers was also behind the new football lockers at Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt Football
Vanderbilt Football Locker Room.

Vanderbilt University's football locker room was renovated in 2023 as part of a $300 million project to improve the athletic facilities at the school. It was designed by Nashville-based Advent.

Vanderbilt football head coach James Franklin spoke about the impact on recruiting.

"I know it has had an impact on recruiting because now we take young men and their families into that locker room," Franklin said after the locker was revealed. "Right away, you can see their body language, you can see their faces, they start taking pictures."

Each locker has a built-in recliner and door that can transform into a sleep pod

Vanderbilt Locker Room
Vanderbilt Locker Room.

Physical and mental recovery is a common theme in these new facilities.

TCU's new football locker room in 2023 was part of a $40 million upgrade to the athletic facilities

TCU Football
TCU football locker room.

TCU's new football locker room was also designed by Advent. It looks a bit like a club, which likely appeals to the young men they are recruiting.

After Clemson won the national football championship in 2018, the school put $55 million into renovating their football facilities

Clemson Football
Clemson locker room.

The locker room was designed by HOK, the same design firm that is behind most new professional stadiums. Their sports division is now called Populous.

Since the Tigers had just won the championship, the lockers were designed to look like thrones.

There are also some fun features just outside of the locker room

Clemson Football
Clemson football facility.

Even before the recruits enter the locker room, they are greeted by a "hill" that mimics the hill at Memorial Stadium, where the players enter before each game. There is even a replica of Howard's Rock at the top of the incline. Players traditionally touch the original rock at the stadium before each game.

In another location, there is a slide for returning to the first floor if you don't want to take the stairs.

Relaxation and fun are also built into these new facilties

Clemson football facility
Clemson football facility

Clemson's football facility also includes bowling lanes, a basketball court, a putting green, and a putt-putt golf course. There is even a whiffle ball field in another location.

It is a lot of college kids' dreams come true.

Football players at The Ohio State University can play pop-a-shot and arcade games in their locker area

Ohio State Football
The Ohio State football facility

The upgrades at The Ohio State University were part of a $42 million renovation project for the football team.

HOK also designed the new football locker rooms at the University of Georgia

University of Georgia Bulldogs Football Facility
University of Georgia Bulldogs football facility

Georgia's new locker room was unveiled in 2023 and was part of an $80 million expansion of its football training facility.

Georgia players have access to plenty of high-end amenities

Georgia football facility
Georgia football facility.

Among the many upgrades for the football players at Georgia is access to a barber shop, a dining lounge that looks like a fancy sports bar, and several hydrotherapy pools.

Check out all the TVs along the walls of the pools in the Texas A&M football facility

Texas A&M football facility
Texas A&M football facility.

In 2013, Texas A&M raised a record-breaking $740 million, something A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said was directly linked to the success of the football team and the media attention generated by Johnny Manziel.

The school then spent $500 million over the next few years renovating Kyle Field and upgrading the football complex and locker rooms. Of that, $21 million went toward the football locker room and adjacent facilities.

Even the showers and bathrooms look like something you find at a Beverly Hills gym

Texas Longhorns Locker Room
Texas Longhorns football locker room.
One common theme at different schools is a tie to the NFL

Texas Longhorns Locker Room
Texas Longhorns Locker Room

Only 1.6% of college football players will go on to play in the NFL. Of course, that rate is expected to be higher at the top programs, something the school wants to make sure recruits know.

Many of these new locker rooms have displays to show how successful the school is at turning its players into professional athletes.

Another common theme is displays for the school's uniform and footwear supplier

Clemson Football Locker Room
Clemson football locker room.

Adjacent to the Clemson football locker room is a room dedicated for showing off Nike's latest shoes, equipment, and uniforms.

And there are often personal touches that seem to have the biggest impact on the players
And if there is any doubt about how much the players love their new digs, check out the reactions of the Vanderbilt players when they saw their new locker room for the first time
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By: [email protected] (Cork Gaines)
Title: College football teams are dropping millions on state-of-the-art locker rooms. Here are some of the most jaw-dropping upgrades.
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Published Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2024 11:03:01 +0000