THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Looking at the University of Toledo’s Larimer Athletic Complex, home to the Rockets’ football program, the exterior of the rectangular-shaped building hasn’t changed much since it was built in 1990.
However, a peak inside the structure reveals the $5.5 million renovation project that is nearing completion shows a dramatic upgrade that will rival any football complex in the Mid-American Conference.
“It supports the vision of who we are,” UT head football coach Matt Campbell said. “I think it also supports the vision of our university and their support of athletics and the student athletes, and certainly giving our kids the best opportunity to be successful.”
Campbell served as an enthusiastic tour guide through the two-story building Wednesday afternoon. The facility is expected to be ready for use by the time the players begin practice next week.
At the center of the interior improvements is the Rockets’ locker room, which has been enlarged and improved with wider, state-of-the-art lockers.
Next to the locker room is a lounge area for the players. Photos and other memorabilia, which include UT All-Americans lists, MAC Championships, and a wall designated for Rockets in the NFL, are present throughout the facility.
The weight room has been significantly expanded to comfortably fit the 105 players allowed to participate on the team. More weights and newer equipment are being added.
All studen-athletes will also have access to a bigger and more improved academic center that will be furnished with new computers, tutoring rooms, and office space for academic advisors.
There is also increased office space for the coaches, including lounge areas to meet recruits and more room for players to break off in groups by position.
Campbell, who had input in deciding what needed to be addressed in the renovation plans, admitted there wasn’t necessarily any one part of the makeover he considered more important to have done than any other parts of the project.
He believes it all helps the Rockets remain a competitive program in the MAC, particularly when it comes to recruiting players.
“I’d break it into three things,” Campbell said. “No. 1, that weight room tripling in space, I think it’s a real wow factor. When it’s all said and done, it’s going to be one of the nicest weight rooms in the country. That’s something that was needed.
“No. 2 is the academic center. We talk so much in our program and all of our athletic programs academically [about] how important it is to really upgrade that facility. That’s huge for us.
“The third piece is the opportunity to showcase our tradition here. When you talk about Toledo football, there’s certainly enough tradition in this program. For us to be able to put that up on walls and be able to showcase that, that’s really important.”
Private sources provided the funding for the project, which is part of UT’s “A University Rising” capital campaign focused on improving Rockets athletic facilities.