New facility upgrade at Alabama sets elite standard

Mal Moore Football building_130801_ToS

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- If a University of Alabama football player wanted for anything a year ago, there can be nothing left on the list now.

The school recently completed a football facility upgrade that allows the players to handle every form of business -- from nutrition, to entertainment, to workouts, training and injury rehab -- all under a single, 30,000-square foot roof.

The project began in February and was completed in July, and that's not including the recently renovated, $9 million weight room that was completed in January. Amenities in the players' lounge include ping-pong, foosball and billiards tables, a video arcade room, leather couches, several 70-inch flatscreen televisions with video game hook-ups, and a nine-panel theater screen. Team captains are in charge of it, making sure trash isn't left behind and that other players treat the property with respect.

The entire team gathers in a 212-seat, theater-style meeting room, and nearby, massive data boards indicate which players are delivering on "production points", as measured after each game by the coaching staff. Meetings rooms for individual positions are each equipped for film analysis.

The training facilities are heavy on extravagances, as well.

Massive hydrotherapy pools, 30 feet long and eight feet wide, run both hot (for pre-practice) and cold (post-practice), and are replete with a flatscreen, as well.

The training room is loaded with state-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment. An anti-gravity treadmill allows players to run at an adjustable percentage of their body weight, placing less physical stress on injured knees, ankles and feet. It was initially purchased to help Green Bay Packers second-round pick Eddie Lacy recover from a severe turf toe injury that required surgery and prevented him from participating in spring practice last year. A few months later, he embarked on a 1,322-yard season.

Machines can measure baseline concussion scores to determine if players are ready to return to practice from head injuries. Players going through injury rehab can play on the Trazer system, which runs interactive video games that deliver a workout and entertainment at once.

The medical staff and team doctor Jimmy Robinson maintain an office in the facility. Trainers can weigh each player before and after practice to monitor their hydration, and fountain machines with Gatorade or water are available at virtually every turn.

Team nutritionist Amy Bragg has two stations in the facility -- one in the weight room and the other near the lounge -- where players can fill up on fruit, nuts and all manner of health foods they would be less likely to eat on their own.

Bragg even conducts healthy cooking demonstrations.

Each player's locker is equipped with a keypad security panel to store personal items, in which charging ports have been installed so players can lock up and power their mobile devices and tablets simultaneously. There are 137 lockers, enough for dozens of walk-ons along with the 85 on scholarship.

Meanwhile, the script A logo is everywhere, from the lockers to the seats, even the laundry chute.

Outside on the practice field, players are sent to cooling tents during practice breaks that are equipped with misting fans. When practice ends, they hang their cleats in a shoe-drying room that rids the cleats of sweat and water, then sit on temperature-controlled benches that can cool to 60 degrees.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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