Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to get an all access private tour of the new Athlete's Village complex on campus at the University of Minnesota. Having just seen the new complex over at TCO in Eagan for the Vikings, I thought that I had seen it all. But I forgot what a modern, state of the art building might look like if it was built with the mindset of impressing an 18-year old athlete and their family.
That's just what the Athlete's Village is.
Again, state of the art facilities to help and assist the student athlete's at the University of Minnesota perform to the best of their abilities on the field and in the classroom. Levels of study rooms and tutoring assistance, state of the art basketball gyms for both the men's and women's teams, film rooms out the wazoo, gigantic weight rooms and a top line cafeteria.
Still, there were a few things that impressed me above and beyond the rest. Below I've highlighted five inclusions in this project that are sure to impress recruits when they come to town and their technological class and foresight should impress each of us no matter what age you are.
Here we go...
Giant Projectors in the Lobby
It's the first thing you see when you walk in the doors and it's a jaw-dropping sight. On the ceiling of the entry you'll see eight mounted HD-projection screens. Displayed in the GIF above you'll see the eight images stitched into two images spanning the length of the room. On the occasion that a recruit is walking into the building a highlight reel for that sport can be displayed on one screen while graphics of the program and the players can be displayed on the others accompanied by a welcome message from the team. Using this system, the room can also host watch parties for games streaming live TV onto the big screens throughout.
The Recruiting Touch Table
A wonder for parents and players alike, up on the fifth floor with an open window facing the Twin Cities skyline is the Recruiting Touch Table. A full screen touch monitor program that displays all the wonderful things about the University and the Twin Cities. Student life, athletics, University ties to Fortune 500 companies in the area with contacts available, a calendar of events throughout the cities including baseball games, concerts and more. It's a one stop shop to show off all the wonderful things about the University and the Twin Cities as a whole and while the student athlete goes off to talk with the coaching staff, the parents get to sit and poke around to fall in love with our great city!
On-Court Video Review
Take a jaunt over to the basketball practice gyms and you'll see a few cameras mounted to the ceiling. Let's just say they're always WATCHING!! Coach Pitino that is, not Big Brother. With cameras mounted to the ceiling, the coaches can blow the whistle walk over to the video closet and pull up the footage of the practice that just happened and offer up a teaching lesson. That's what we call a competitive advantage in the biz...
Putting Greens, Buckhunter and Pop-A-Shot
I said it on the air, the new Athlete's Village is state of the art. From top to bottom they have all the bells and whistles that the new Vikings Practice Facility has, but in this case it's all packaged up to look shiny and nice through the eyes of an 18-year old. That means that the jerseys, the videos and the history are on full display...and then you go down the hall and there's a newly installed putting green just in time for the masters. Head upstairs to the players lounge and you'll be able to join in on the Pop-A-Shot tournament that is wrapping up following March Madness. Maybe, shuffleboard, flat top Pac-Man, air hockey or Big Buck Hunter are more your jam. Not an arcade or table games guy? Kick back on the loungers and pod up that Xbox One, PS4 or Nintendo Switch and throw down against your teammates. Anything you need for a little bit of a "mental break", it's right there at your disposal.
In-House Television Cooking Range
Looking to better your culinary expertise for life after college? Head over to the cafeteria and you'll note on the far side the full size TV-Studio quality kitchen wired with cameras above the range and microphones for the presentation. Learn how to cook for yourself after school, for that Valentine's date or just for fun. The room is also partitioned if needed for a private cooking class for student athletes.
Want to see more? Check out the video below to follow Aj through the full tour of the facility...