With the unveiling of its new facility plans, UCF has finally joined the college athletics arms race

Photo from UCFKnights.com

Danny White’s tenure at UCF saw a lot of teams take off thanks to some amazing hires. Both men’s and women’s basketball underwent full-on revolutions. Men’s soccer returned to prominence. And of course, football reached heights that the fanbase had only dreamt of.

But one thing that never quite took off under White was the athletic facilities. New AD Terry Mohajir has worked quickly to change that.

With renders released for an upgraded and expanded Bounce House, a renovated football building and a newly repurposed recovery river to go along with a tailgating plaza, UCF has finally joined the college athletics arms race.

When Mohajir started as AD back in February, one of his first priorities was to update UCF’s aging facilities. White had seen through some triumphs during his tenure, like a new locker room and improved weight room. But that couldn’t quite outweigh the aging décor, mismatched paint and themes across buildings or the constant promises of a lazy river that never seemed to get any closer to actually happening.

Mohajir had to act quickly to change all of that.

“They had a master plan, but not quite like this. It was a little different – a lot different, actually,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of different facilities across the country and I knew that we probably needed to upgrade and to enhance our facilities. That was paramount for where I believe this program is.”

The first changes were minor but effective. UCF redid its meeting room, adding upgraded chairs, better lighting and murals highlighting program accomplishments to the walls. That upgraded wallpaper spread throughout the Wayne Densch Center to the point that a player or recruit could never not be reminded of UCF’s many illustrious accomplishments.

And now, the rest of Mohajir’s vision has been laid out publicly. And it will put UCF in the upper echelon of college athletics facilities.

In the plan, a new and high tech Launch Club will be built into the Bounce House’s south endzone. It will include everything from coach’s offices facing both the practice fields and gameday field to luxury seating that will help the Knights bring in even more revenue on game days.

The Launch Club will look out of the stadium down on the newly repurposed Recovery River, which will go beyond the recreational lazy river that White wanted by including hydrotherapy pools and other perks for players. That river feeds into a new tailgating plaza nestled between the athletics buildings and practice fields. And the Wayne Densch Center will be completely renovated, making room for expanded locker rooms and player lounges, all in a high-tech design worthy of UCF’s space ties.

And in the stadium itself, two standing-room-only wings will be added to the top of the north endzone to accommodate even more students.

This plan obviously won’t be completed overnight. Mohajir said that the new football campus will likely cost around $50 million (construction of the entire Bounce House cost $55 million in 2007) and there are many upgrades to be made away from football as well, including relocating the track to create a much more immersive soccer stadium.

But UCF finally has a plan to build towards in the coming years. And unlike White’s construction promises that never seemed to quite get underway, Mohajir has a history of getting things done. Arkansas State may be in the Sun Belt, but Mohajir managed to turn the Red Wolves’ facilities into some of the best that the Group of Five has to offer. He even added real waterfalls to the football stadium’s endzones.

UCF’s new facility plans, however, aren’t about being the best in the Group of Five. That label is quickly vanishing in the wake of conference realignment, and it’s one that hasn’t applied to UCF in years anyway. The Knights truly believe that they are the future of college football, and these upgrades will rival just about anyone in the nation. UCF looks to be at the top of whatever conference it may find itself in in the coming years.

“Did I know that the landscape of college athletics was gonna be like it is today when I first got here? Not necessarily, but you always have to be prepared,” Mohajir said. “You prepare for any situation as opposed to hope for the best. Hope is not a strategy.”

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Christian Simmons is the founder and editor of Knight Sports Now. You can follow him on Twitter at @ByCASimmons.