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UT athletics center upgraded

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 02:35 PM
TAMPA -

When recruits asked to see locker rooms in the University of Tampa's Bob Martinez Athletics Center, coaches avoided it.

"Coaches would make every excuse possible not to show it to them," said Larry Marfise, UT's director of athletics.

The locker rooms were dingy and had mildew, the lockers were rusty and old, and there were far too few lockers for the university's athletes.

This year there won't be excuses. Thanks to construction and major renovations, the center's locker rooms and weight room have doubled in size and the training room has more than doubled in size, Marfise said.

The center added 34,000 square feet of space.

Meanwhile, the adjacent Health Sciences and Human Performance building added a second story totaling about 23,000 square feet.

The center will be re-dedicated and the Health Sciences and Human Performance building will be dedicated today.

The event will be held at 10:30 a.m. in the athletics center's lobby. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and UT alumnus and former Florida Gov. Bob Martinez, for whom the center is named, are expected to attend.

The improved athletics center should help with recruiting, Marfise said.

"I think it gives us a foot up when we're recruiting one-on-one against another school," he said.

Combined, the sites now provide more than 110,000 square feet of multiuse classrooms, faculty offices, laboratories and athletics space. (That does not include the gymnasium, which received only minor renovations.)

Renovations to the athletics center began this spring. Construction at the health sciences building began in June 2011.

UT officials didn't disclose the project's cost, saying only that it was funded by donors and "university resources."

Improvements inside the athletics center also include a media center and a larger study lounge. There will be 213 lockers for women and 212 for men.

The center received new displays highlighting UT's athletics history, national championships and a community service award.

To the right of those entering the center is a display of UT's 12 national titles. A space on the display is available for a 13th title.

The Sword & Shield Room includes a 45-foot-tall ornate stainless steel sword with an LED lighting scheme that can be controlled to shine white or red. The 2,000-pound sword is 24 feet in diameter and made of steel and Fiberglas.

The adjacent building, meanwhile, will be used for general academic purposes as well as Health Sciences and Human Performance. That department will have eight classrooms, an athletic training classroom/lab, two human anatomy and physiology labs, a human performance lab and a marine science lab.

UT President Ronald Vaughn said improvements to the two buildings reflect the university's demand for academic space and need of room for the university's growing sports programs.

"It's my belief that both building projects will enhance Spartan spirit and academic experiences for current and future generations of UT students," Vaughn said in a news release.


jpoltilove@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7691
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