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Published: Tuesday, 7/25/2006

Buckeyes should be more comfortable


COLUMBUS - When Ohio State's football team reports for camp next month, the players will work out of a new locker room and meet in expansive conference rooms as part of the renovation and expansion of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

The new weight room and the assistant coaches' offices will have to wait.

"That was huge, the locker room and the meeting rooms [being completed]. We couldn't do it without that," coach Jim Tressel said. "We can work around the rest."

Work on the $19 million project started in February and should be done by next February or March. Besides renovating nearly all the 33,000-square-foot facility, the center is being expanded by 52,000 square feet.

The renovation forced the players to use the smaller Ohio Stadium locker room during spring practice and bus back to the athletic center for practice. They also had to meet in small, makeshift rooms in the stadium's southeast tower.

"We called [the stadium locker room] the YMCA because it's so small over there," quarterback Troy Smith said. "I think that's what will make this year even sweeter, knowing that we had to go through these different changes and still have a great team."

Tressel's new office has mahogany and oak furniture and a large-screen TV.

Players, accustomed to meeting in their coaches' offices and sitting at small, classroom-type desks, now will meet in much larger and more comfortable rooms with conference tables and chairs. The locker room has space for 130 players and has 10 flat-screen televisions. The team will have a second large meeting room, so that the offense and defense can meet at the same time rather than rotating through one room.

Key parts of the facility will not be done when the Buckeyes report for camp Aug. 6. The weight room will continue to occupy a portion of the indoor practice field and the assistant coaches' offices will remain across the street.

The two-story weight room will be double the size of the old one. The facility also will include a half-basketball court and a racquetball court.

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