No. 7: Schmidt Complex Ground Breaking
On Jan. 20, under a tent erected on the lawn next to Howard Schnellenberger, a group of FAU dignitaries that included FAU President Dr. John Kelly, Owls athletic director Pat Chun and new football coach Lane Kiffin dipped shovels adorned with blue bows into a box of red sand.
The ground had been ceremoniously broken on the new Schmidt athletic complex – a $60 million project that will provide a new home for the football offices, an academic center and, ultimately, an indoor practice facility.
A $16 million gift from the Schmidt Family Foundation launched the project. The ceremonial groundbreaking was another step toward making the complex a reality – albeit a small step.
Once complete, the complex will provide a new everyday home for the Owls’ football team and offer a strong recruiting advantage for FAU over Conference USA Schools.
Athletic director Pat Chun says university officials meet weekly with the architect and builder, and the Owls hope to break actual ground – unceremoniously – prior to the end of the current calendar year.
“We’re sprinting forward to try to get to a date,” Chun said.
What We Wrote
Why It’s Important
The Oxley Center, current home for the FAU football program, is less than two decades old, but the Owls have already outgrown it.
The football office doesn’t have enough desks for all the analysts and quality control personnel that Kiffin brought on board. The locker room is too small. And if new strength and conditioning coach Wilson Love doesn’t get some more room to work off his exuberance, the Oxley’s foundation might crumble.
The Schmidt complex will give FAU an advantage over FIU and even Miami – at least for a little while – and when the indoor practice facility is complete (it’s part of Phase II) it will allow the Owls to practice without weather disruptions – a frequent issue in South Florida.
Had this been an actual groundbreaking, as opposed to a ceremony, the story would have ranked higher on the countdown. Still, the continued progress – no matter how slow – on the new facility is one of the most positive stories surrounding FAU athletics this year.
On a side note, if anyone out there knows whether the red sand used in the groundbreaking was flavored with strawberry or raspberry syrup, please let us know. We’re planning our own party…
No. 10: Baseball Relationship Ballpark of the Palm Beaches
No. 9: Football Beset by Injuries
No. 8: The Quarterback Battles
No. 7: Schmidt Complex: It’s a Start
No. 6: Buckeye Surprise
No. 5: The Sirens Call
No. 4: One Stormy Week
No. 3: Partridge Fired
No. 2: Forgettable Seasons
No. 1: The Lane Train