BRACK: Work begins at Tuscaloosa for new building for 17th national trophy

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  We bet there’s a lot more work going on over at the University of Alabama these days, after winning their 17th national football championship trophy.

That’s because ’Bama’s got to build another entire building to house their latest national trophy.  Seems like it’s the university’s tradition to house national title trophies in separate buildings.  In the days before Bear Bryant when they didn’t have much to gloat about, it seemed like a good idea to showcase (literally with a whole building) the big accomplishment.

While joy reigns supreme in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for one group, it’s more back to hard-work and fundraising.  They must raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the building to house and commemorate the latest new national football trophy and national title. (Each of the 16 previous trophies has its own building). The campus is about to run out of land area for these buildings. But, like the football team, they’ll find a way.

All this came about years ago when a former president of the University of Alabama didn’t want to keep all the football trophies in his own office. Would seem like bragging.

So all around the campus, there are individual three-story buildings built for each trophy, all distinctly designed, with similar floors.  Of course, you don’t just build a structure for the trophy. Other items belong in the same structure that houses the trophy.

For instance, the team uniforms.  On each second floor, about 3,500 square feet in size, is about a half-size locker room, and stalls. Each individual stall has individual jerseys and pants and shoes neatly arranged, which has the name of the player stenciled above it. (Shoulder, knee and other pads are not there. That would make it look cluttered.) Since the players don’t practice or dress here, there are no showers, so that cuts down on the size of the floor.  However, it does take up the entire second story.

The third floor is the media room. Just think of the wall space it takes to display the many different sports pages after each Alabama championship! Doing it first class, the media room wants every single championship story displayed, especially national media. All this is climate-controlled, of course, so the newsprint doesn’t yellow. The media area takes up so much room there is no rest room on this floor. And the storage for the game and highlight tapes is just off the small (about 100 seat) auditorium in each of the Trophy Houses.

Then there’s the replica of Coach Nick Saban’s office. Naturally, it’s on the first floor. On special days, you can find the coach in the latest Trophy House, signing autographs. There’s only a ten-dollar charge to get near him.

We hear that even the late John Portman wanted to design a Trophy House, but they told his firm they didn’t need an atrium.  While the competition is open to designers all over Alabama, would you believe it, no one from the Auburn Architectural School has ever snared this contract.

It’s all part of what makes the University of Alabama great. Other universities just wish they had such trophy houses, an Alabama tradition.

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