Some expected news was finally dropped Thursday, when Jeff Ermann of Inside Maryland Sports reported Maryland is expected to convert Cole Field House, the former home of the school's basketball teams, into an indoor football facility. The football facility rumor has been around for over a year now, with recent rumblings suggesting Cole -- a historic campus building with not much current utilization on a key campus location (both in terms of visibility and available space) -- could be the destination. Ermann has confirmed those rumblings, and we expect an official announcement within the next week.
What does this announcement mean for the future of the football program? It signals a step into the next tier for Maryland, one that could take the Terps into the kind of success they've been pining for -- if everything else goes right, that is. Building a fancy indoor facility doesn't count for any wins on the field, but it can certainly help you get there.
We don't know what it's going to look like, but with a rumored price tag exceeding $100 million and Under Armour CEO (and former Maryland player) Kevin Plank as a "major player," you think he's going to settle for mediocre? Plank sees Maryland as an opportunity to expand his brand's national profile -- his Oregon, so to speak -- and this facility is an opportunity for him to put a building on campus with his company's signature all over it.
Put together that monetary figure, Plank's desire to have his alma mater as the focus of Under Armour's growth, the fact that this is a new facility being designed in 2014 and the renderings we've already seen and it's pretty clear that they intend this to be a state-of-the-art facility that will wow visitors and leave them impressed with both Maryland and Under Armour. The renderings, designed for a different location, likely don't tell us much about how the new facility will look, but it does give us an idea of the scope of the project they intend this to be.
Beyond the obvious advantages of an indoor facility (the ability to practice inside during inclement weather as well as whatever advanced training technology they will surely have in the facility), the biggest gains may come on the recruiting trail.
Since the arrival of Kevin Anderson and Randy Edsall, Maryland has placed an emphasis on the Maryland Pride movement, attempting to keep the considerable amount of local talent home. An advanced indoor facility may not be the closer that brings all of those kids home (nothing will ever bring everyone home, no matter the school), but it helps close the gap between the Terrapins and the bigger programs that have been able to consistently grab kids away from the DMV. This is just another thing Maryland will have to offer recruits, and we'll just have to wait and see how much of an impact it makes.