Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — There’s more than Independence Day to celebrate up on the hill. After being housed in trailers for more than a year, the University of Utah football program is moving into its new state-of-the-art facility this weekend.
The $32 million complex is substantially complete, allowing the Utes to begin inhabiting a center that features a wide array of amenities and cutting-edge technology.
“We were in dire need of this facility. The one aspect of our facilities that was not up to speed was the football center,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who noted that Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Burbidge Family Athletics Center and Spence Eccles Field House are all top notch. “So this will be a big plus for our program.”
The new building covers more than 120,000 square feet and includes the latest in sports medicine and training, hydrotherapy and related equipment, a cafeteria and nutritional area, lockers and showers, offices, an auditorium, team classrooms and meeting spaces, a place to study, a Hall of Fame, a media studio with editing and production facilities, equipment management and storage, plus a practice field.
The complex adjoins the 19,000-square-foot Alex Smith Strength and Conditioning Facility and is adjacent to the indoor practice field and a soon-to-be-built outdoor field with artificial turf — giving Utah’s program a complete complex as it embarks on year three in the Pac-12.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to recruit to the building,” Whittingham said. “It’s an impressive facility, and in this day and age of college football, recruits are making their comparisons with different programs. You need to be up to speed to be able to compete.”
Jeff Rudy, Utah’s director of football operations, considers the new facility one of the best in the country.
“I think it’s a very good thing,” he said, adding that it’ll help the program out and everyone is excited about it.
Rudy served as liaison for the project — acting as eyes, ears and mouthpiece from the football side of things.
“I’m just the ‘lucky guy’ that had to go to all the meetings and make sure that everybody else’s voice within basically this city of a program was being heard,” Rudy said.
The master plan, he explained, involved the creation of three lists. They included what the program had, what they needed and what they wanted.
And in the end, just about everything was accommodated.
Rudy credits Utah athletics director Chris Hill and the entire university for being supportive of the project.
“The biggest thing we did in this facility was function,” Rudy said. “It’s got to function for the program. It’s got to serve a purpose. I’m hoping we hit the nail on the head there.”
Rudy didn’t act alone. He credits a lot of others for helping to bring it all together. Contributors include Hill, Whittingham, Kyle Brennan (senior associate athletics director), Ann Argust (associate athletics director), Kelly Sharitt (director of football equipment operations), Doug Elisala (director of strength and conditioning), Matt Dimmitt (football video coordinator), Todd Campbell (director of broadcast and video services), Paul Silvestri (head football athletic trainer), Trevor Jameson (director of sports medicine), Eric Yochem (football trainer) and Beth Wolfgram (sports dietician).
“All have been a huge help,” said Rudy, who noted that it’s pretty much been a two-year process.
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