In the unrelenting arms race that is attempting to spend money on facilities instead of properly compensating the athletes responsible for nine-figure revenues, the Florida Gators allegedly fell behind in the late 2000s and early-to-mid 2010s, with the program’s priorities being the construction of the Bill W. Heavener Complex as a glorified trophy case and front porch for a team that was on top of the college football world.
While Florida fell from that perch, though, it will be a lot harder to argue that Florida’s locker room is substandard from this Monday onward, as the Gators revealed the gorgeous results of a $1.5 million redesign of that space to the team this morning.
The locker room, which now prominently bears the name of notable booster Bryan Kornblau — an alumnus who has been wildly successful in construction and served as an honorary coach for this year’s Orange and Blue Game — had not been updated in a decade, and certainly looks better now in staged photos with mood lighting than it did prior to these renovations.
Facilities don’t matter— JJ (@jjgatorman) July 15, 2019
Before and after. pic.twitter.com/HnWj9lt9mW
Per Florida’s release, it now “features new graphics, lockers, carpet, lighting and technological updates.” But it also just looks more au courant, with the lighting that makes the space seem more cavernous and its features more futuristic doing a lot of the work to make the graphics and carpet look both new and expensive.
And that lighting was not a prominent element of previously leaked images of the space, which looked far less special for it.
Obviously, the lighting wasn’t the only thing highlighted differently in the full reveal, with the installation of custom pictures and nameplates for players above their lockers clearly coming after that picture was taken. But that in-progress picture and shots similar to it worried Gator Nation upon their dissemination; today’s Florida-planned reveal has gotten many of the same fans who were grousing then to crow.
And Florida players past and present are plenty excited, too.
Will this locker room alone bring Florida back to parity with college football’s lead programs when it comes to the use of funds to create spaces for football players that the industry will fight tooth and nail to not properly compensate? Nah, of course not: That’s why there’s still an $85 million standalone football facility in the works.
But this is a very visible step forward — and it comes on a day when Dan Mullen, wearing slick custom Jordans, is going to be selling his vision for Florida.
It’s not a bad talking point, that’s for sure.