It’s finally raining in the deserts of Raleigh once again. That’s good news for homeowners, some who depend of wells for water for their homes, others who are trying to care for parched grass, for farmers tending dusty fields, and for nearly everyone. We’ve needed this rain for a long time. Unfortunately, however, it comes at a bad time for the NC State Wolfpack football team as it prepares for its most challenging game of the year so far.
The Pack has finally edged into the Top 25 for the first time in forever, and the team is looking forward to returning to the friendly confines of Carter-Finley stadium for a regionally televised contest against Virginia Tech this Saturday at 3:30pm. Make no mistake about it, despite their seemingly undistinguished 2-2 record so far, the Hokies will challenge the Wolfpack in every phase of the game, and for the Pack to beat them, they will need to be sharp at every position. That sharpness comes from solid preparation in the game film room and also on the practice field. A win will raise the profile of the program nationally in both the rankings and with recruits making their college decisions, and a victory over a perennially nationally ranked Hokie team would indeed signal to the country that NC State football should be reckoned seriously.
Unfortunately, thanks to the otherwise much needed rain, it is inevitable that the Wolfpack team’s outdoor practice is in poor condition, and that’s when it isn’t pouring rain today and perhaps tomorrow. That in turn will slow State’s practices, it will expose the players to unnecessary practice injuries, and at the least it will slow the rhythm of build-up the coaching staff uses from Monday to Friday as it builds their players towards a peak performance on Saturday afternoon inside the stadium and in front of a regional television audience.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Both Chuck Amato and Tom O’Brien have long indicated the need for an indoor practice center, once that could be climate-controlled just enough to allow full practices without fear of summer swelter in the pre-season and without fear of the autumn rainstorms like the one that the area is experiencing today. Both have said that it would help them keep practices on schedule and would greatly aid their maximizing the limited practice hours that is the reality of college football today.An indoor practice center might seem like an unnecessary luxury, especially now in these tough economic times, but it really isn’t: instead, it is a necessary piece of the puzzle the football program requires as it rebuilds itself from the lull that came after the Philip Rivers ended. We don’t have one, and we’ll have to make do the future, but as State’s football program moves upward, the need for one will happen again, and then again after that.
It’s time for the Wolfpack Club, the Athletic Department and for the well-heeled donors to take seriously and heed the call of the coaches and to find a way to build the facility that they’ve been requesting for at least a decade. State needs one badly, and that need will not be going away now or at any time in the future. Of course, spare money in the worst recession since the 1930′s might seem like a bad time to even think about another capital project. That’s understandable, however, there is another way:
If You Can’t Build It, Rent It.
Granted it would be far from an ideal situation, but if funds are lacking for a true practice facility to be built from the ground up, it would be a great idea for the Wolfpack Sports brain trust to consider leasing an offsite facility and retrofitting it for the team to use. There is plenty of warehouse space with high ceilings and climate control sitting unused by fallow businesses and commercial real estate concerns, and leasing that sort of property is now almost literally going begging. Such a place would at least partially fill the need the coaches have outlined, and it would certainly improve the team’s chances of winning when it has to practice in inclement weather.
Done correctly, any upgrades needed to a leased facility could be transferred over to a permanent facility when — not it — it is built.
Leasing space would buy the time the money men need to bridge the program to better times, and it would help the team sooner rather than later. It’s an idea that should be considered.