FORT WORTH, Texas -- I hadn't made a trip across the metroplex to Fort Worth since March, but last week, I got a first look at TCU's new facilities and a chance to check in with the Frogs' preseason prep for our story earlier this week comparing West Virginia and TCU's entrances into the league.
Here's a bit of what you should know about my visit:
TCU's new palace really does look immaculate. If you've ever been to or around Cowboys Stadium, you know the feeling. Everything just seems new, and for good reason: it is. It's a fresh-looking stadium, and the exterior of everything in the vicinity fits in perfectly with campus. It's a brand-new building, but it looks like it's been part of the campus for a century, if that makes sense.
For now, the biggest thing left to complete is the lounge behind the six $15 million founders' suites that will serve as the swankiest area of the stadium. Here's what it looked like last week, but the construction was well underway. It may look very different already. Everything else is almost ready. Outside construction on the stadium wrapped up in late spring, but outfitting the interior has been underway since. It's going to be really, really nice. Here's what it looks like from the field in a pretty cool project from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Outside the west gates will be a plaza with sizeable plaques honoring the six founders who purchased the suites that really got the stadium going. Engraved in the sidewalk will be a map of downtown Fort Worth, too. Very nice touch and a cool area before games, I'm sure. Plenty of energy there just outside the stadium.
Visiting media will be really impressed with the press box. It's probably a little bigger than TCU needs on a week-to-week basis, but it'll be well suited to handle big games and the accompanying crush of media. It's easily one of the nicest and biggest in the entire league.
The Frogs' new locker room is unbelievably nice, too. The setup of the room itself won't wow a ton of people (Oklahoma State's was a little nicer, in my opinion), but the lockers themselves are state of the art. A model was recently on display at a convention, and the tall, wood lockers feature padded seats with a cubby beneath and a locking, code-activated space above for players to put valuables in and charge things like iPods and phones. It definitely looks like an NFL or NBA locker room. Here's a photo of that space.
Lots to be excited about for the Frogs, who have an extra week to prepare for the season and finish up the stadium before opening on Sept. 8 against Grambling State. Not fun for the fans, but once the season actually starts, they'll be very, very happy.