Bergstrom Football Complex vision becomes reality

A tour is open for the media on Monday of the new Bergstrom Football Facility which will open soon for the Iowa State Football team and features a new locker room.

Alex Halsted

Paul Rhoads had a vision.

With five pages of handwritten notes, the ISU football coach provided architects his ideas on the 60,000-square foot addition to the Bergstrom Football Complex.

“A lot of the little details came straight from coach Rhoads,” said Chris Jorgensen, associate athletic director of facilities, planning and management. “He was very, very involved throughout this whole project.”

Now, 22 months after the idea first set in, the expansion of the football complex is nearly complete. The $20.6 million addition to the Bergstrom Indoor Facility was approved in June 2011, and the idea came to fruition months earlier.

Of the total cost, approximately $5 million comes from donations, while the other $15.6 million comes from athletic department revenues such as ticket sales.

Just up the stairs from the building’s entrance — past the mural of Jack Trice — are windows overlooking the 11,000-square foot training room with 18 lifting stations.

“The weight room is a cavernous facility with state-of-the-art equipment,” Rhoads said. “What you don’t see and you won’t see is the work that gets done in that space — but it’s the front porch.”

The equipment alone costed $1.2 million, and it’s unlike any other equipment in the nation. The lifting lifts are operated by hydraulic racks, making lifting faster, safer and more efficient for the players.

Yancy McKnight, strength and conditioning coach, said he asked for a “big rectangle,” access to the indoor football field and high ceilings. The new “performance center,” which McKnight refers to it as, has all of those things.

“I would find it hard-pressed to find someone in the country that has something similar to what we have as far as a football-only room,” McKnight said. “I feel like we are definitely leading with this facility in the country.”

The other 49,000-square feet of the complex is encompassed in attention to the tiniest details.

Murals of players and fans line every wall; a hallway is dedicated to Cyclones in the NFL; and iPads displaying players can be found outside an office for each position. In the locker room, each aisle has a different word: “Accountable,” “Trust,” “Smart” and “All In.”

Even the phone in Rhoads’ office — which has a projector and two flatscreen TVs — is cardinal and gold with the I-State logo.

The entire facility is filled with details and the latest features. Each locker has an air filtration system for the player’s pads and shoes, and the therapy area has resistance pools with underwater cameras.

“It could be bigger; we could have spent more,” said Ben Bruns, the project manager for The Weitz Company and a former All-American ISU offensive lineman. “But it’s as efficient as you could ever imagine it to be.”

And apparently, it’s comparable to what can currently be found in the NFL.

“In Seattle, we got a new one, and this one here is better than that, and that’s the pros,” said former Cyclone quarterback Seneca Wallace last weekend.

Nowhere to be found in the facility is a pool table or pinball machine, things that other facilities might have free-time recreation. Jorgensen said Rhoads wanted the facility to have a “coming to work” mentality.

For the most part, Rhoads’ plans have been followed.

“If I go back and look at those notes, we’ve hit on every one of those in some way,” Jorgensen said.

In two years time, Rhoads’ vision has become reality.

“We wanted it to be designed with a blue-collar work ethic in mind,” Rhoads said. “That’s exactly the finished product we had with plenty of ‘wow’ to go on top of it.”