Rutgers introduced its new practice complex on Sunday, as the administration officially unveiled the Marco Battaglia Practice Complex. The complex was named after former RU tight end and NFL alum Marco Battaglia, who was also on hand for the ceremony.
“I am proud to unveil the best practice facility in professional or college football today,” Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs said at the dedication ceremony. “From when I first started here after hiring Chris Ash, we realized that this was a project that needed to be done. Now, thanks to the generosity of Jeff and Amy Towers and the hard work of many, this complex is not only complete, but unparalleled. It will greatly impact our program as we continue to build a championship contender in the Big Ten.”
“It’s like every new piece of facility that we get,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. “They’re all game–changers. This is huge on a lot of fronts. First and foremost, it shows commitment by the university to approve a project like this. Secondly, it benefits the current student-athletes in (terms) of player safety, which is at the forefront of everything we do.”
“I have been to a lot of universities and a lot of NFL programs and you don’t see a facility like this,” Battaglia said. “Coming back and working in development, it was not my goal. My goal was to get us to the top of the Big Ten. I spent nine years in the [NFL] and six of them in Ohio. A lot of Ohio State fans sitting in my locker room, during those days in Cincinnati, talked about the Big Ten constantly. We are now a part of it and we have our own history and we are going to make our own history. It starts today.”
Battaglia finished his Rutgers career as one of the most decorated student-athletes in program history. A consensus All-American, Battaglia concluded his career ranked first in the RU record book amongst tight ends in reception yards (2,221), receptions (171), touchdowns (16) and 100-yard games (seven). As a senior captain in 1995, Battaglia was a unanimous first team All-American and led the nation’s tight ends with 69 catches for 894 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to Big East Offensive Player of the Year accolades. The Queens, New York, native was selected in the second round (39th overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he played from 1996 to 2001. Battaglia went on to enjoy an eight-year career in the NFL.
The Upgrades Are Amazing
According to Rutgers, the upgraded practice facility features two new Kentucky Bluegrass fields equipped with a state-of-the-art drainage and irrigation system. A separate Field Turf playing surface with CoolPlay technology was installed, providing the Scarlet Knights with an additional area for practice drills. The complex also has been fitted with a high-powered Musco LED light system.
It also features two permanent 54-foot film towers along with two new scoreboards, a new LED video board and six game clocks. A 5,000-square foot storage unit was installed along with new maintenance equipment and permanent bathrooms.
In addition to the functional improvements, the practice complex also underwent several aesthetical changes, including a new brick entrance way and wall, fencing around the perimeter and redesigned landscaping throughout the facility.
The outside facade of the complex features plaques commemorating the program’s six College Football Hall of Fame honorees – Paul Robeson, Alex Kroll, Harvey Harmon, Homer Hazel, George Little and George Foster Sanford – and lists each All-American who represented Rutgers football. The entrance also includes a monument of Battaglia, the namesake of the complex.
“This project took a lot of time and effort,” Ash said, “and it shows that the people in this state and at Rutgers University can get things done and make a difference.”
This complex is expected to pay dividends on the recruiting front. It’s a great step going forward for Rutgers Football.