A $25-million renovation of the Williams Stadium Football Operations Center is scheduled to be completed by January 2020 and help complete the major stadium feel at Liberty University’s expanded football stadium.
“This facility once completed will be comparable to many Power 5 football buildings,” Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw said. “We’re very excited about that.”
The renovation will expand the FOC footprint by nearly 18,000 square feet to 65,455 square feet of usable space, and it will enclose the north side of the stadium.
The current structure, originally opened in 2006 as a three-story, 48,000-square foot facility, stood isolated from the rest of the stadium.
“This building will be designed to really tie into the stadium and create a much more intimate environment for our home football games,” McCaw said. “I think it, again, will be a much better gameday atmosphere and home-field advantage for the team.”
The 5,600-square foot locker room and upgraded training room facilities will be completed in time for the Aug. 31 season opener against Syracuse.
“We’ll have access to the locker room through the season,” McCaw said. “That portion of the building will be complete so we’ll be able to utilize the building.”
The players will use the visiting locker rooms in the indoor practice facility during the offseason. New Liberty football coach Hugh Freeze said last weekend that spring practices begin Feb. 24.
The coaches are currently working from the fifth floor of the west tower and McCaw expects they will “remain there until the building opens in January.” The exceptions will be on game days when the suites and coaches boxes are used.
Williams Stadium underwent a $40-million-plus expansion this past year that boosted seating capacity by nearly 25 percent for the program’s inaugural season as a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the top-tier division of college football.
The FOC renovations have temporarily halted the planned upgrades on the west side of Williams Stadium. McCaw said those plans — which will expand the current tower to add more suites and club seating, and the expansion of premium seating in the current grandstands — will begin following the conclusion of the 2019 season.
“The FOC is the priority project right now,” he added. “Anything we do on the west side would be fairly modest for the upcoming season.”
Freeze was given an opportunity to add his input to the FOC renovations, as was new strength and conditioning coordinator Dominic Studzinski.
Studzinski’s office is housed on the bottom floor, which will feature a 16,000-square foot weight room and workout space.
“Fortunately we’re early enough in the project that coach Freeze has been able to speak into just the overall FOC renovation and make some changes,” McCaw said. “Dominic has been able to kind of review the plans for the weight room and make some adjustments to that as well.”
The top floor will house offices for the coaching staff, 10 position meeting rooms and two staff meeting rooms. There will also be a 147-seat, nearly 1,600-square foot, theater-style team meeting room.
The second floor, located at ground level, will feature an expanded locker room (from 5,100 square feet to 5,600 square feet) that will house 122 lockers and an attached equipment room, and a 13,000-square foot player’s lounge that will be used as a recruiting area during home football games.
“The player lounge, that will double as the recruiting room on game day, I think is going to add tremendous value to the student-athlete experience and the program overall,” McCaw said.