— Thuc Nhi Nguyen (@thucnhi21) July 30, 2017
During the Wasserman Football Center’s construction, Jim Mora tried to walk through the future home of UCLA football as much as possible. Almost every day, he strolled through the construction site, watching as it took shape one room at a time. When days went by and he couldn’t see it, he asked for pictures, like a proud parent checking in on his child.
The head coach finally got to show off his prized possession Sunday during a private tour for players and their families before the facility’s official grand opening Tuesday.
It’s been a long time coming for Mora, whose contract extension in 2014 stipulated that if the school did not begin construction on a football-specific facility by October 2015, his buyout would be waived.
“It’s just very, very necessary to get this done to kind of keep up with what everyone else is doing,” Mora said Sunday, “and so I commend our chancellor and Dan (Guerrero) and everybody who put forth so much effort to get this building built. It’s spectacular.”
While players are moving into the new locker rooms, the entire team’s transition into the new facility won’t be complete for at least a few more weeks.
Mora said the team will move in stages: players first, then audio/visual equipment from meeting rooms, and the coaches will come last. Initially, the team will work out of three buildings, from Wasserman, to Acosta Training Center, to the JD Morgan Center, where the coaches’ offices are currently located.
Many players got their first glimpses at the new facility Sunday. Receiver Darren Andrews said the spacious locker room was his favorite part, but he’s also partial to the team meeting room overlooking the field, the outdoor patio where he can eat lunch, and the players’ lounge where he can relax.
Four years ago when Andrews came on his recruiting visit to UCLA, he toured Acosta and saw the old locker rooms and a few jerseys in the old equipment room. Times sure have changed, he said.
“The recruits are about to be blown away by what they see,” Andrews said.