PISCATAWAY, NJ - C. Vivian Stringer walked into her new digs and cast her eyes toward the rafters.
When the Rutgers women's basketball coach called the new RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center "a game-changer," her words echoed throughout the cavernous practice facility sprawled out in front of her.
Stringer was joined by Rutgers President Robert Barchi, Chancellor Christopher Molloy, RWJBarnabas Health President and CEO Barry Ostrowsky and a long list of university administrators, local politicians, supporters and even members of the men's and women's basketball teams at Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The $115 million facility rests on 6.2 acres of land adjacent to the RAC on Rutgers' Livingston Campus.
It will house the practice facilities for the men's and women's basketball, wrestling and gymnastics teams.
The 307,000 square foot, four-story building not only has a gym for Stringer's team and a gym for men's coach Steve Pikiell's team, but it also has a wrestling room and a gymnastics room.
There is also a lobby, a sports medicine wing, a dining terrace and a merchandise store for the public.
All told, 134,000 square feet of the facility are dedicated to athletics. Plus, there's a 173,000 square foot parking deck with 535 spaces.
It is just as impressive from the outside. The center is monolithic in scale and the sun glints off its silver-hued facade on sunny days - although Thursday was not one of them.
If subpar practice facilities were holding back these four programs, look out Big 10 foes such as Penn State, Michigan and Maryland and look out regional competitors such as Syracuse, Boston College and Notre Dame.
In fact, Stringer said that when the first recruit came through here this summer and glimpsed at the walls freshly painted red and smelled the newly lacquered courts, she committed on the spot.
"Before she even left," said Stringer, "She said, 'I'm coming here.'"
With the swipe of a keycard, Stringer said, her players can come to the APC at any time to shoot around. The facility comes with a machine that counts the shots made, Stringer said with a smile.
After a workout, the Scarlet Knights can walk down the hallway and relax in the lounge. There's a gamer station on one side and a huge black leather sectional on the other. On the wall are five televisions. In the back of the room is a counter stocked with apples, bananas and other snacks.
For Barchi, whose eight-year run as university president will end in June, facilities such as the APC are why he's known across the university as Bob the Builder.
During his tenure, Barchi has overseen the construction of 3.2 million square feet of new academic and student life space, including the honors college, the Weeks engineering building here in New Brunswick, and many improvements on the Camden and Newark campuses.
But perhaps the happiest people at Thursday's unveiling were the student-athletes.
"In order to be a champion, you have to prepare like one, said Arella Guirantes, a 5-foot-11 guard for the women's team. "The foundation of preparation is world-class facilities like the APC that gives us an opportunity to prepare."