Top five gear walls in college athletics

A house is just a house, unless it is a palace. Photo: University of Oregon's uniform showcase/Courtesy of University of Oregon

WASHINGTON, November 21, 2013 — In the competitive landscape of college athletics, the art of protecting your house, your turf, your territory, takes on new meaning when your team’s digs are deluxe. Major college programs invest millions to give their teams’ sports facilities a classy edge, and an edge in the recruiting world.

Courtesy of University of Maryland

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How can you make your facility appealing to both the 18-year-old recruit and your former all-American and pro legend alumni? A nod to the past, and eye for the future, and a grasp for the here and now is a great start.

Here are five incredible collegiate work spaces created to give the home team the plush treatment.

5. University of Maryland

Comcast Center

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The Terrapins’ basketball pedigree, set by a national championship and 25 all-american selections, is well represented. The upgrade of their basketball home now reflects that and there is room built-in for future success. Maryland, in the high-profile Atlantic Coast Conference, needed a facelift for its facilities.

Courtesy of University of Maryland

Three cool features

Permanent gear display

Maryland’s uniforms and featured gear from Under Armour line the gear wall. The Terrapins’ black uniforms, with yellow trim and red numerals, and more than a dozen shoes are showcased.

Updatable numbers wall

A running tally of everything from national championships, elite eight berths and NBA players a wall in Comcast Center, with Terrapin Red numerals that can be updated as accolades are garnered.

Numerology of past greats

Each player’s locker features a name plate with a list of past players who’ve shared their uniform number. Forward John Auslander can appreciate the legacy of Steve Francis’ and Mike Jones’ No. 23.

Courtesy of Central Michigan University

4. Central Michigan University

Indoor Athletics Complex

Facility upgrades are not just for high-profile programs. Central Michigan, a Division I FBS program, is in the Mid-American Conference. The Chippewas’ football facility in Mount Pleasant, Mich., does not have the square footage of bigger schools, but they have made creative use of the space.

Three cool features

Hall of Champions

The main hall of the complex has become a focal point of recruiting visits for all sports. It features trophies and photographs of legendary Central Michigan athletes who have risen to national prominence.

Courtesy of Central Michigan University

NFL & CFL pipeline

All Central Michigan alumni who’ve moved on to the NFL or CFL are depicted in an historic timeline, from Jim Podoley to Gary Hogeboom to Joe Staley, with photos of them in their pro uniforms.

Legendary moments in Chippewas football history

The program’s signature victories, including wins against national power Michigan State and natural rival Western Michigan, are detailed in photos and descriptions, with room to grow.

3. University of Southern California

John McKay Center

Courtesy of University of Southern California

USC’s 21 athletics programs have produced 115 national champions in a history that spans more than 100 years. The John McKay Center in Los Angeles encapsulates that tradition, while providing space for all programs to work out together. The tributes to legendary athletes inspire the current class.

Three cool features

All-American Walk

The path to the Trojans’ practice field is lined with cast images of past players, but it has more. Among the legends and heroes are also fathers of players. It is a tradition that got an incredible facelift. The cornerstone is a sword handle at the end of the walk players also tap on the way to the field.

Courtesy of University of Southern California

Hall of fame inductees

Not all schools can boast 11 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees. A feature in the McKay pays tribute to players such as Morris “red” Badgro, Anthony Munoz, Ron Yary and eight other enshrines.

Nike wall

Southern California is a test center for Nike. This section features all the Nike products used in its programs, the company’s latest and greatest offerings, in an interactive display.

Courtesy of University of Alabama

2. University of Alabama

Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility

Already a football powerhouse, the Crimson Tide poured $9 million into its football facility for upgrades. Everything from ping-pong tables to an anti-gravity treadmill to a team nutritionist who offers healthy cooking demos is part of the renovation. The facility also features huge hydrotherapy pools.

Three cool features

Player lounge

This is the spot. Crimson Tide players can play foosball, pool or video games. It also houses a nutrition bar, a six-screen TV display, leather couches, and yes, a place for players to study for classes.

Courtesy of University of Alabama

Jersey wall

Across the hall from a display of the uniform Nike produces for the program sit the framed jerseys of players taken in the first round during Nick Saban’s reign as coach, which began in 2007.

New locker room

Alabama’s game-day space includes 137 expanded lockers with six flat-screen televisions. The personal lock boxes have two power plugs each for players to keep their device batteries powered.

1. University of Oregon

Hatfield-Dowlin Complex

Nike, again, leaves its footprint, this time in a $69 million way. Nike chairman and co-founder donated the center to the Ducks’ football program. The six-story headquarters is next to Autzen Stadium on the Oregon campus, and features Italian marble showers and Nike football leather throughout.

Courtesy of University of Oregon

Three cool features

Odor-killing locker rooms

All lockers have a ventilation system to eliminate odor. Entry to the room is by coded keypad only, and each player has their helmet and shoulder pads in a spring-loaded top shelf that tilts toward the player.

Ducks in flight monument to NFL players

Metal ducks in flight hang from the ceiling on the fifth floor. Each represents Oregon alums drafted by the NFL, with different metals representing which round the player was taken.

Courtesy of University of Oregon

Uniform showcase

Oregon might lead the nation in uniform combinations, between green, yellow, white, silver and slate colors. The lobby displays each of them on mannequins in a funky mirrored case lit up in Oregon green.

Kamden Hills is a technology writer. He is a contributing writer for and @KamdenHills.


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Kamden Hills

Kamden Hills is a technology writer who travels, a true Philadelphia Eagles fan and loves to live life.  He graduated with a B.A. in Communications with a minor in Information Sciences and Technology for Telecomm. He began his writing career working for a non-profit that teaches science and technology for an after school program. He now teaches science in technology at a local charter school and a part-time writer for @KamdenHills

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