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Virginia Athletics celebrates groundbreaking of new football operations center

Once finished, the center will be a crucial step forward for the football program

<p>University President Jim Ryan, football Coach Tony Elliott and Athletic Director Carla Williams have all played an integral role in the progress of Virginia Athletics' Master Plan.</p>

University President Jim Ryan, football Coach Tony Elliott and Athletic Director Carla Williams have all played an integral role in the progress of Virginia Athletics' Master Plan.

Virginia football took a major step Thursday with the ceremonial groundbreaking of its new Football Operations Center, the next phase of Virginia Athletics’ Master Plan. The 90,000 square-foot facility is set to be completed by spring 2024 and will represent a significant upgrade from the McCue Center — the football program’s current, severely outdated, facility that has been in use since 1991.

The $80 million building will provide a centralized location for all of football’s daily operations and will allow teammates and coaches to cultivate closer relationships. It will also level the playing field for the Cavaliers from a recruiting standpoint, as the program’s current facilities put it at the bottom of the ACC. The operations center is a sign of commitment from the University to football, and it would no doubt lead to better results on the field.

Athletic Director Carla Williams made upgrading the school’s athletic facilities a top priority as soon as she arrived on Grounds in 2017, and, in partnership with former football coach Bronco Mendenhall, a vision was crafted for the future of Virginia Athletics. The construction of the football operations Center is the long-awaited beginning of the second phase of the Master Plan, with the first phase — two lighted, natural grass practice fields — having been completed in summer 2020.

“It is not flashy, but it is exactly what we need to compete for championships,” Williams said. “That's what we wanted. You'll have everything that it should have. State-of-the-art sports medicine, which includes everything: strength and conditioning, coaches' offices, nutrition, the technology to help our players and coaches prepare, that's huge nowadays.”

Coming from football powerhouse Clemson, Coach Tony Elliott knows what a winning program looks like and what winning facilities look like. Like many others, he sees this as an essential stepping stone for Virginia’s future success.

“As we’re challenging and pushing these young men towards leading us to become a model program, it’s important that we show them that we support them fully in everything that they do,” Elliott said. “And this space in the new facility is going to give us all the room that we need, plus all the resources that we need, to pour into these young men holistically to create the model program in all of college football.”

With Phase II of the Master Plan officially underway, the next step for Virginia Athletics is completing its fundraising efforts for the third and final phase — a new Olympic sports center and renovated McCue center. Construction is set to begin in 2023 with hopes of completion in spring of 2025. Despite a lack of elite facilities, the University’s Olympic sports have excelled year after year, and one can only imagine what a new facility will mean for the future of Cavalier athletics.

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