LOS ANGELES — It’s one of the components that make up what USC coach Lane Kiffin calls “the perfect storm.” He’s been able to talk about it and maybe even had a picture or two he could share with recruits, but there’s nothing like the real thing and the 110,000 square foot, $70 million John McKay Center is open for business.
“It has a wow factor to it,” said USC senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson, who led media members on a tour of the facility on Tuesday.
As far as recruiting tools go, the brand new facility stands as one of the best in the country.
At the main entrance, over the door is scripted “THROUGH THIS PORTAL ENTER THE WORLD’S GREATEST ATHLETES.”
As soon as you enter the building there are two pictures, one to the left and one to the right, of the USC student athletes.
There is an athlete from each of the 21 sports represented standing on the rocks at Malibu’s El Matador Beach with the ocean as a backdrop. The photo was a point of emphasis for those who had a hand in assembling the McKay Center. Where locals may know there’s a beach within range and may take it for granted, school officials wanted to stress not just the school itself, but also the scenery, which is something people can’t get if they are from out of state.
The entire main floor is dedicated to academics by way of the Mark Stevens Academic Center. It features computer labs, two 40-person classrooms, and also a work area where group work can be done designed to bring athletes from different sports together.
“We have the world’s best athletes,” Jackson said. “We want to bring them together.”
If you head downstairs, which is virtually underground, there is a 40-yard practice football field. There is also a weight room, a juice and nutrition bar, a training room complete with open space to allow for players to rehab and three pools – cold water, hot water, and one that features an underwater treadmill.
The football locker room and players’ lounge is located down there as well. The locker room has ionized air which cuts down on smell and bacteria and each locker comes with an iPad.
Just above the main floor is the football lobby, which has replicas of all 11 AP National Championship trophies. From there you can look at the large 33×15-foot video monitor which is capable of showing up to six different types of programming at once.
Just outside of that is the Pete Carroll Veranda, named after the successful ex-Trojans coach. There are also rooms named in honor of former coach John Robinson and former wide receiver Lynn Swann.
Jackson along with athletic director Pat Haden went around to “15-20” Major League Baseball, NFL, and collegiate facilities to get an idea of what direction they needed to go in the construction of the McKay Center.
It’s a building that is designed to benefit all 21 sports and the 650 student athletes.
“The mission of the building was simply (to) graduate our student athletes, that was number one,” Jackson said, “and number two is open it to all 21 sports so that every sport could somehow utilize the facility and I think we’ve done that.”
USC will begin groundbreaking for the Heritage Hall renovation project in January. There are also plans of a $15 million upgrade to the McDonald’s Swim Stadium, as well as upgrades to Cromwell Field and the Coliseum.