For three months, Tommy Moffitt’s office will consist of a table shoved in the corner of LSU’s indoor practice facility resting on top of slabs of wood.
“We’ve got to go somewhere,” the LSU strength and conditioning coach smiled. “I’ve got a laptop.”
LSU’s weight room on Thursday will shift a few feet out of the football operations building and into the adjoining indoor facility. Construction crews built a 6,300-square foot temporary weight room by laying wood on top of the field’s artificial turf and erecting wooden walls, equipped, even, with wooden doors.
For the next three months, this will serve as the weight room for a group of LSU sports teams, including football, while the current facility undergoes a $2.5 million face lift.
The weight room renovation — it is being completely gutted and increasing its size by about one-third — is Phase I of a two-phase project to upgrade the 11-year-old football operations building.
Eddie Nunez, deputy director of athletics overseeing projects, said the school is in the midst of fundraising for Phase II, expansion and renovations to the team’s locker room, training room and second-floor coaches’ offices on the building’s west side. A budget and timeline for that project has not been set.
Meanwhile, by August, Moffitt and his strength staff expect to have a snazzy new weight room and offices — the school’s attempt to keep pace in this on-going facilities arms race playing out in the Southeastern Conference.
“For a brief time, it’ll be the best of its kind,” Moffitt said. “Someone will top it soon after we’re done.”
He hopes that’ll be Aug. 1, the same week as preseason football camp is likely to begin.
Demolition begins this week on the current weight room. Crews have already started constructing the two-story, 5,000-square foot addition — its steel frames jutting out the east side of the operations building. What used to be a sidewalk is now a concrete slab, the base of the new addition.
The weight room isn’t just growing. Everything inside the renovated facility will be new — weights, dumbbell sets, weight racks, lifting machines, cardio machines and a few first-time items.
Crews are installing two 10-foot, LED screens that Moffitt can sync to an iPad for recruiting and instructing purposes. The new weight room will include a medical-ball wall, second bathroom, larger storage unit, another office and up to 30 televisions.
It will include six more power racks for squatting and bench-pressing in addition to the current 16 and a 360-degree universal gym. The number of cardio machines will nearly triple — all of them located on a second floor that overlooks the first.
The weight room will get a new ceiling, too, and will be home to a five-zone directional speaker system.
Moffitt might be most excited about the new floor. LSU will be the first school, Moffitt said, using a new rubber flooring produced by Mondo, an Italian company. The floor is nearly twice as thick as the current rubber floor (10 millimeters to 18 millimeters). The flooring is softer and more forgiving.
After its use in the temporary weight room this summer, the weight room’s old equipment will replace 20-plus-year-old equipment in the weight room inside the north end zone portion of Tiger Stadium. Softball, basketball, tennis, golf and swimming and diving teams use that facility.
“That weight room will be a much needed face lift too,” Moffitt said.
Football, baseball, soccer and volley ball teams use the weight room in the football operations building.
The second phase of the football operations project is more extensive than the weight room renovation. That project could take as long as eight months to complete, Nunez said. During that time, LSU must find a temporary space for coach Les Miles and staff and others with offices on the second-floor of the building.
“We can’t start anything until after football season. The biggest aspect is the logistics,” Nunez said. “They’re going to be displaced for six to eight months. Where are they going to move? That’s how we’re spending a lot of our time right now.”
The long-awaited groundbreaking for LSU’s new nutrition center could come soon.
The school is waiting for construction bids to return. Construction is set to begin after a bid is chosen, Nunez said. That could come this summer, he said.
Construction on the $12 million nutrition center was scheduled to begin last April before being put on hold amid proposed state budget cuts. The Tigers Athletic Foundation has raised the funds for the facility, which will provide athletes a state-of-the-art dining hall.
The nutrition center will be the third construction project in what Nunez calls the “Nicholson Gateway,” an area of planned development on and around the site of the old Alex Box and extending north down Nicholson Drive.
The center will be built just west of the new LSU Foundation building, which is located at the corner of Nicholson and Skip Bertman Drive. Crews are currently constructing a utility yard on the north side of the center’s proposed location.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.