OGDEN — As you take a flight of stairs up to the second level of the new Barbara and Rory Youngberg Football Center on the north end of Stewart Stadium, you’ll find a mural on the wall that reads: “It pays to live in Ogden.” And right now, it does.
The new $16 million facility, which broke ground last year, will be open to the public for an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday at 4 p.m.
“Well, this building is outstanding," Weber State football head coach Jay Hill said. “Players are excited; administration is excited; I’m excited, and it’s a big deal for us. We get a new weight room, new locker room for the players, meeting room spaces that we’ve needed so desperately. This is a big deal for us.”
A big deal, it is.
Three NFL scouts have commented to Hill that the locker room is better than the locker rooms they use, he said. The details of the new facility are immaculate. From the Weber State Wildcat engraved in meeting room chairs, to the new coaches' offices that will double as position group meeting rooms, to the simple touch of purple recycling bins, no detail went unthought of when it came to the planning of the new facility.
Hill, who joked that he knows just enough about construction to get in the way, took inspiration from his time at the University of Utah and from a tour of the Utah State University facility guided by former Aggies head coach Matt Wells. He saw what he liked and pitched ideas.
The entire project started with an update to the plaza area, which has been named Sark’s Boys Gateway. After the plaza area project, more money was donated by community members to bring the football facility project to life.
The biggest change is the space. The 27,000-square-foot building will be used for all sports, not just football. It provides a more comfortable setting and a better atmosphere for players to learn. Building a facility that would be used by all sports at Weber State was something the administration wanted to do.
“There’s been a lot to it,” Hill said. “I think it builds a student atmosphere here where it’s better. It’s enclosed the stadium. The games are going to be more fun for the students. We will use the auditorium for all student-athletes, which is big that they can come up here and we can do all kinds of meetings in our team auditorium. It’s going to enhance the student experience, I really believe that.”
Quarterback Jake Constantine and his teammates understand the magnitude of what they’ve been given by the community.
“We’re all just so grateful for it,” Constantine said. “The community support is huge, especially on game days. I think that’s what really helps us have such a great home record throughout all the years under coach Hill, and I think we need that to continue and just keep getting more and more people out here every year.”
The Wildcats have their home opener on Saturday at 6 p.m. against Cal Poly.
Carra McManamon is a native of Washington State and is attending the University of Utah. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @curramac22