By the numbers
6 — Lanes on the 300-meter track
100 — Length, in yards, of the artificial turf football field
534 — Indoor parking spaces on two levels in the parking garage below the IPF
550-plus — Construction manpower days without injuries from working on the IPF
2,604 — Solar panels used (CU has the only NCAA Division I net zero indoor practice facility)
108,000 — Total square feet of the IPF
For years, the Colorado track and field and cross country teams grew used to training on a surface stained with oil, beer and nacho cheese.
"Not fun for the track team to come to on a Monday and to try to be excited about a workout," Buffaloes coach Mark Wetmore said.
These days, the Buffs' excitement is through the roof.
Earlier this month, CU opened its new indoor practice facility (IPF), and while the main focus is on the benefits to the football program, several CU teams are enjoying the new digs.
"It's absolutely spectacular," said soccer coach Danny Sanchez, whose team has held workouts in the IPF this month. "I've been around a lot of places around the country and I don't know if there's anything even close to it; not only just the magnitude of it, but really just the proximity to the Champions Center and Dal Ward Center. Now we have a locker room in Dal Ward. It's one-stop shopping between sports medicine, athletic training, lifting, running, playing. It's spectacular."
The IPF is part of CU's $166 million facilities upgrade project that is nearing completion. The project includes the expansion of the Dal Ward Center, the construction of the Champions Center — which includes state of the art sports medicine and workout equipment — and the IPF.
For many of the CU programs, the IPF is the icing on the cake, and it's really a game-changer for the athletic department.
"Of course everybody is very excited," Wetmore said. "We've yet to learn exactly how best to use it, but no doubt people are much more excited about the workouts that will be conducted in there that previously had to be either conducted in Balch (Fieldhouse) or canceled."
Balch, which was built in the 1930s, had become a primary location for concessions during football games in recent years. It had constant foot traffic and even vehicles driving on the surface.
In addition to the years' worth of stains on the Balch surface, it had a small, three-lane track that was 200 meters long, with tight turns of 50 meters.
The new IPF is not only clean, but it has a six-lane (eight on the straight-aways) 300-meter track with 90-meter turns.
"These are basically outdoor turns; much kinder to the lower legs, much faster," Wetmore said. "For the middle and long-distance runners, frankly it's a place they can train in when Balch was a place we just chose not to."
CU has yet to figure out how to use the facility for high jumping or throwing events. That's where Balch comes into play, perhaps as a permanent venue for those athletes.
"Balch has extreme limitations for running around the oval, but it's not a terrible place for jumping and throwing," Wetmore said. "There is some talk about cleaning it up and lighting it up and kind of making it into a primary field event training venue. Balch isn't going away."
Neither is the practice bubble, which to this point has been the only place where the CU football and soccer teams could practice indoors. Sanchez said the soccer team, which will primarily train at its outdoor facility at Prentup Field when the weather is nice, could continue to use the bubble when the IPF is in use.
For the football team, the IPF was a must-have in an effort to keep up with Pac-12 foes. The Buffs have already held some workouts in there and new strength and conditioning coach Drew Wilson said it's an awesome setting for the team to maximize its time. The IPF and CU's football weight room are situated next to each other.
"It's first class all the way," Wilson said. "To have your weight room with the indoor right there, it makes it so much easier on everything."
It's an excellent recruiting tool, as well, and likely helped CU land a solid football recruiting class earlier this month.
"This is the first year that it really helped," head football coach Mike MacIntyre said. "At the end of our recruiting class, when it got down to some battles at the end, this made a big difference. We wouldn't have got some of those guys in our old facility, to be honest with you."
Wetmore said his only concern at this point is whether the Buffs will get spoiled by their new surroundings.
"Can we keep our blue-collar work ethic even though we're living in a palace?" Wetmore said.
His goal is to make sure the Buffs don't lose their edge. But, for now, everybody in the department is enjoying their new surroundings.
"For the current student-athletes, it's like Christmas every day," Sanchez said.