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New Syracuse football facility to be ‘monumental step forward’ for program

Syracuse football (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Syracuse football (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

A new Syracuse football operations center will be critical for the program moving forward into the future, as the Orange looks to remain competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference and on a national scale, ‘Cuse leaders say.

This past Friday, Syracuse University officially broke ground on a new football operations center at the John A. Lally Athletic Complex, a facility that SU Athletics has described as a “state-of-the-art academic and athletics village” that will support the 20 Syracuse Orange sports teams.

Per a release from SU Athletics, the new football operations center, when completed, will include coaches’ offices, a new and larger cafeteria and nutrition space, a new locker room, new position meeting rooms and other amenities.

John Wildhack, SU’s athletics director, said in the statement that breaking ground on the new football operations center is “another monumental step forward in shaping the future of Syracuse University Athletics and in particular, our football program.”

He added, “Today represents a commitment to compete at a national level.”

Syracuse football, down the road, will have a new operations center.

In September of 2019, SU Athletics announced that former Syracuse football offensive guard John Lally (class of 1982) and Laura Lally had contributed a $25 million gift to help kick off a fundraising campaign to create top-notch experiences for future generations of ‘Cuse student-athletes.

At that time, John Lally said, “For Syracuse University Athletics to become even more competitive in both the ACC and on the national stage, the program needs to have first-class facilities, operations and support.”

In February of this year, SU Athletics said that the entranceway to the John A. Lally Athletics Complex was finished. Syracuse University leaders said completing this entranceway was the first milestone in an ongoing fundraising campaign to build a new home for SU student-athletes.

Wildhack, when the entranceway opened, said the John A. Lally Athletics Complex would help the Syracuse Orange “recruit the brightest and best student-athletes. It will help us compete and win at the ACC and national level.”

Wildhack, Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud, John and Laura Lally, Syracuse football head coach Dino Babers and others were in attendance last Friday when ground was broken on the new football operations center.

I do agree with Wildhack that this new football operations center, and the John A. Lally Athletic Complex as a whole, are important to the future success of SU Athletics, given that so many schools in the ACC and across the country have state-of-the-art, impressive athletic facilities.

I don’t necessarily think that these stellar new facilities on the Hill, in and of themselves, are going to bring in top-flight recruits at Syracuse football and other ‘Cuse sports. There are other factors at play as well, such as name, image and likeness (“NIL”) opportunities, and of course the transfer portal’s explosion has changed the landscape of college sports.

I am, however, optimistic about what’s going on lately with my beloved alma mater, the Syracuse Orange. The John A. Lally Athletics Complex is pivotal. So, too, was the recent launch of Orange United, a commercial NIL collective that will support all ‘Cuse sports.

Orange United, being managed by the Atlanta-based Student Athlete NIL (“SANIL”), has signed a deal with multi-media rights company LEARFIELD to be an official partner of, and the preferred collective for, SU Athletics.

Jason Belzer, the founder of SANIL, told me in a recent interview that Orange United has a goal of raising $6 million to $9 million annually for NIL deals supporting SU student-athletes in every Syracuse Orange sport.

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