Kansas builds first-class football locker room, including supersized TV
In an age of groundbreaking technology and state-of-the-art innovations in athletics, even the locker rooms are getting upgrades.
The University of Kansas last year completed what its football staff believes is the best locker room in college sports, the latest example of how top-tier programs across the nation are investing heavily in athletics. But while most projects are based around stadiums and fieldhouses, more universities and high schools are beginning to invest in weight rooms, lounges and locker rooms.Jeff Love, the director of football technology at Kansas, said he’s never seen anything like what Kansas unveiled last summer. The locker room was part of a nearly $2 million project at the Anderson Family Football Complex that also included a new player’s lounge.
“We have a very family-driven environment here,” Love said, “and our goal was to get something that would make people go, ‘Wow.’ To get something that people would come to see.”
The locker room is a spectacle that few in Division I football can match. Its centerpiece is a supersized television screen made up of nine different panels and connected to five different tuners, three Mac Minis, Xbox, Playstation and a Blu-ray player. Love said it’s not uncommon for players to gather in the locker room or lounge as their teammates go head-to-head in a video game. The TVs are also occasionally used for game film, hype videos or to broadcast the day’s schedule.
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Individual lockers are equipped with four USB ports and their own ventilation system to prevent the growth of bacteria. Above the lockers is a ribbon-style LED display provided by Neoti, and Love said he’ll often use them to stream images of Kansas wheat fields or inspirational phrases for players. Lockers are personalized with each player’s picture, hometown and Twitter handle. The sound system also was upgraded.
In the lounge, the team can play pool, shuffleboard, foosball, air hockey and other arcade games. There’s also a barbershop, three 4K televisions and theater-style seating.
“We want people to be attracted to this and at the same time, when you walk in, we want it to feel like home,” Love said. “A place where you can hang out and it can be completely functional and help you win football games.”
It’s not like the team’s old locker room was decrepit, but Love said it was time for an upgrade. Functionality and innovation is becoming a priority for many athletic programs, and for college teams hoping to lure the nation’s best recruits, bigger is always better.
Love recalls players visiting the locker room for the first time and seeing many of them in awe over the changes. In addition to the images on the locker room’s screens, Love can customize the colors of lights in the locker room to create a different atmosphere each time players step into the facility.
“When people walk into the facility, their jaw hits the floor,” Love said. “That’s pretty neat.”
Love said it’s possible the program will look at additional upgrades down the road, something that’s always necessary to keep up with technology and competing universities. For now, Love and the rest of the football staff continue to marvel at what’s already been accomplished.
“I am so appreciative of all of the people involved who helped make this happen,” Kansas football coach David Beaty said last year when the project was finished. “They took a completely outdated space and turned it into a top-five Power Five Conference locker room and lounge. This will be a tremendous asset when it comes to recruiting.”