Athletes eager for building

Days after Athletic Director Pat Haden announced the construction of a $70-million athletic complex, USC coaches and athletes reacted to the news in a way that many people might expect — with excitement.

“Heritage Hall is one of a kind. It’s a landmark, but I think we’ve outgrown it,” sophomore track and field team member Farren Benjamin said.

At 110,000 square feet, the two-story complex will give the department more space than the current 70,000-square-foot Heritage Hall, the current hub of the athletic department. Considering that Heritage Hall will also remain in use, the complex will provide plenty of room for USC’s 21 sports teams to grow.

The new space will include an academic center, study rooms, a training room and a 32,000-square-foot weight room. It will also house meeting spaces, offices and a locker room for the football program.

“I think it’s a great thing, not only for the football program but for the school. USC has always had a great tradition of excellence and now [we’ll] have a great facility,” sophomore football safety T.J. McDonald said. “We’re going to have a nice locker room … the academic facilities, that’ll be good as far as tutoring goes.”

The new facility might give student-athletes more resources, but it doesn’t mean that Heritage Hall, which opened in 1971, will be forgotten. The facility will allow for a reallocation of space in Heritage Hall for athletic department staff, an expansion of the equipment room and a new lounge for student-athletes.

“It is a really special place to me and to a lot of athletes, and I don’t think this [new facility] will replace it, but it will be a great addition,” Benjamin said.

Giving the athletic department more space is a project that has been long overdue, players said.

“[The athletic facility] is totally necessary considering our university has the top athletic programs across all sports,” junior tennis player Alison Ramos said.

Construction is slated to begin in January, and is expected to take about 18 months to complete. The wait will be worth it, many said, for several reasons.

“I think any time you can bring a state-of-the-art facility to any department, you are going to have immediate returns on that,” USC women’s soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin said. “The type of support we get will only improve, the type of work we can do down there can only improve.”