Florida State is settling into some nice new 15-million dollar digs after the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Facility flew up in the shadow of Doak Campbell Stadium this past offseason.
Despite breaking ground just this past November during the weekend of the UF-FSU game, the facility flew up over the course of the last seven months until its completion in late July. Now it stands between the football stadium, Dick Howser (baseball) and the school's soccer facilities, a massive struture comprised of three fields- two outdoors and one housed inside a giant field-house.
Florida State began its camp on Tuesday and already players are noticing a difference.
"It's really good, I mean I love it," said safety Terrence Brooks. "We're still in the heat a lot so it doesn't really make a big change [right now]. But it's real nice on that indoor field. They really did a great job on that. We go in there to warm up and stuff and it feels just as good as the grass does outside. I love what they did with it."
The team still spends most of its practices outside. This is Florida after all and being acclimated to the heat is an advantage that Jimbo Fisher and company are not willing to give up by moving practices inside full-time.
But the fieldhouse allows the team to warm up inside without damaging the grass surface on the two outdoor practice surfaces. The indoor field uses synthetic turf that mimics grass (as Brooks mentioned) so the players don't require a change of footwear when moving from outside to inside.
The indoor portion of the practice facility also allows the team respite from thunderstorms, hail, hellfire and several grades of ballistic missile (allegedly). All kidding aside, with the thunderstorms threatening earlier today, the thought of cancelling practice never even had to cross Jimbo Fisher's mind this afternoon.
Having an indoor facility is something that Fisher had pushed for since arriving in Tallahassee. The annual loss of several practices to Florida thunderstorms was a regular occurence at FSU in years past and a competitive disadvantage considering those were reps the team couldn't get back.
Those days are over now, FSU is just the second school in Florida with such facilities (behind UCF). But it didn't seem like this day would ever come to some players.
"To be honest with you, I didn’t think I’d be here to see this," joked Christian Jones on Tuesday. "Because they’ve been saying this since I was being recruited that they were going to have this. So it’s crazy for us walking out here being able to see it."
"I was like 'ooh is it going to get built?' or whatever, and then we start seeing them breaking ground and I was like OK that's perfect," said Brooks. "Me and Tyler Hunter couldn't wait to get on in there so one day we just pretty much snuck on in there, went and did some drills and stuff like that, just got a feel for it."
The Dunlap Athletic Center will also serve as a nice recruiting tool for Fisher and staff come this fall and winter. Having the best facilities has become "an arms race," according to new FSU Athletic Director Stan Wilcox. Well now the Seminoles can consider themselves well-equipped. I'm sure Fisher and his coaching staff have already made good use of that pitch out on the recruiting trail.
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