On Thursday, the University of Virginia officially broke ground on building a new football facility for head coach Tony Elliott and his Virginia Cavaliers. These new facilities are a long time coming and are the first major step in the master plan to modernize UVA’s athletic program.
The new football operations center was approved three and a half years ago and costs $80 million for the 90,000 square foot facility. It is set to finish construction in 2024.
Athletic Director Carla Williams noted in her press conference that the new center “is not flashy, but it is exactly what we need to compete for championships [in football].” She added that the new facility will include “everything that it should have,” with “state of the art sports medicine which includes: strength and conditioning, coaches’ offices, nutrition, [and] the technology to help our players and coaches prepare.”
An upgrade in the football program and athletic department’s facilities has been of absolute necessity for a while now. It’s what Williams identified right away when she arrived on Grounds four years ago as the new AD.
“It’s been my focus this last four years,” she said yesterday, “so I feel really good about where we are.” Of course, she says that while “the structure is being repaired, we’re not there. We still have a long way to go. But we have made great strides in making sure that we have a healthy football program. All of us, we know the benefits of a healthy football program.”
Specifically, Williams pointed to the hand-in-hand relationship that a successful football program can have with the rest of the athletic department. With these new facilities signaling a major investment in the football team, Williams said that “having a broad based successful athletic program helps everyone,” as “the success in Olympic sports creates enthusiasm for folks that give to football,” and then “the success in football helps for those donors who want to give to the Olympic sports or to scholarships.”
Speaking of Olympic sports, the next step in UVA’s master plan is an Olympic sports specific facility which, according to Williams, is likely to begin construction in 2023 and finish in the spring of 2025.
As for the type of impact that new facilities can have on individual programs, the recent successes of the UVA softball team after the construction of the new stadium, Palmer Park, have been encouraging for Williams. “We talk about it all the time,” she noted, “build it and they will come.” She pointed to how “the recruiting has improved,” and that “it was standing room only for a lot of our games at softball,” with this being “the best year in 12 years,” now that the new facility is in place.
All in all, this new operations center is absolutely huge for Virginia football and Virginia athletics as a whole. The new facilities will provide the Wahoo coaching staff a tool in recruiting as they’ll no longer need to compensate for down-trodden amenities and can pitch the improvements and commitment to football to their recruits. With further investment in football and an exciting new staff leading the way, there’s plenty of reason to expect real growth for this team in the coming years.