A field of their own: SU football awaits new practice facility

The $13 million project will help eliminate scheduling conflicts and weather woes for the Orange.

Syracuse University hopes its new indoor football-training facility’s full-size practice field, large roof and state-of-the-art equipment will impress new recruits, as well as ease the already-busy schedules of student-athletes.

“One of the biggest amenities is their time,” said Joe Giansante, an executive in the university’s athletics department, referring to student-athletes.

Right now, football players practice in one of three locations: an outdoor field, the Carrier Dome or Manley Field House. Each one of these venues presents scheduling challenges that interfere with student-athletes’ time for classwork, said Giansante.

“We’re watching it being built, and we’re like, ‘Man, if this was done already, we wouldn’t have to share time in Manley with softball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and all them.’”
- SU quarterback AJ Long

“The Dome, of course, is a very busy building with more than 300 events in the Dome every year,” he said.

When it comes to Manley Field House, he points out that several teams train there, including lacrosse, softball and track and field.  Adding a new football training facility to the mix “alleviates pressure that 17 sports put on Manley Field House,” he said.

This would allow the football team to schedule practice without worrying about conflicts with other teams’ practices or postponements due to inclement weather. With an additional indoor facility comes greater scheduling flexibility, which allows all teams to better accommodate players’ study schedules.

SU’s recent entrance into the Atlantic Coast Conference raises its performance standards, and winning championships depends a lot on attracting talented recruits. An indoor training center devoted to football helps the university compete with other ACC football programs for the best players, Giansante said.

AJ Long, a freshman quarterback for SU, looks forward to the facility. It’s a topic he and his teammates discuss a lot, he said.

“We’re watching it being built, and we’re like, ‘Man, if this was done already, we wouldn’t have to share time in Manley with softball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and all them,’” Long said.

Because the football players will follow a more consistent practice schedule with the new facility, they will have more time for studying and practicing, helping them excel academically and athletically, Long said.

“We have guys who miss practices because they have to be in class or they leave practice early because they have class later that night,” he said.

The new $13 million training facility will imitate some of the Carrier Dome’s features. For instance, the floor space in the new facility will be 405 feet long and 215 feet wide like the Dome’s. The roof, which is 45 feet high at the edges and 65 feet high at the center, will let in natural light. The multi-use facility will also feature a state-of-the-art playing surface, team meeting rooms, coaches offices, a dining hall and weight rooms.

Outside, students will see a brightly-lit orange “S” block installed on the front of the building, along with a plaza featuring three statues of former SU football legends Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little.

The athletics department is actively fundraising through Orange Club, a financing arm through which donors can give money to support athletic programs, for the indoor training facility. The largest donation so far comes from Richard Thompson, a member of the board of trustees who gave $1 million to the athletics department. Half of that will help fund the training facility. If a supporter donates a large enough sum, then the athletics department could name the building after him or her.

From an economist’s standpoint, building the new facility is the right choice, said Donald Dutkowsky, an economics professor in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Projections are difficult to make, he said. But the athletics department is funding the building largely through donations, and it's basing the design off other ACC schools’ football training facilities. That’s part of the reason the benefits will likely outweigh the costs, he said. 

It also helps that television contracts and bowl games for winning teams can pay up to millions of dollars.

“In the short term period for this university, I would give the marginal benefits every chance we can get here because we are in a new conference,” he said. “We’re in a more high-powered conference with the ACC.”


Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.