NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The Scarlet Knights have a new castle.
Rutgers University's athletics department revealed its upgraded Marco Battaglia Practice Complex yesterday, Aug. 6, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Busch Campus. The facility—named for the former Rutgers tight end, who was an All-American and Big East Offensive Player of the Year—will serve the football team.
“I am proud to unveil the best practice facility in professional or college football today,” the school's athletics director, Pat Hobbs, said during the event. “It will greatly impact our program as we continue to build a championship contender in the Big Ten.”
After the overhaul, the practice complex now encompasses two new fields with a “state-of-the-art” drainage and irrigation system, another area for practice drills, an LED light system, two permanent 54-foot film towers, two new scoreboards, a video board, six game clocks, a 5,000 square-foot storage unit and restrooms, according to Rutgers.
What's more, the complex also boasts a new brick entrance and wall, along with fencing and improved landscaping, making it a destination for pigskin lovers, according to the school. Indeed, the facade displays plaques in honor of Rutgers' six College Football Hall of Famers and names each All-American. A monument dedicated to Battaglia also stands near the entrance.
Jeff and Amy Towers, two prominent Rutgers boosters, donated millions toward the project, as part of the athletics department's R Big Ten Build Campaign. University officials expected to fund the rest of the upgrades from more than $73 million in fundraising dollars and tax credits, according to Rutgers.
Hobbs said he and head football coach Chris Ash quickly realized that this project “needed to be done.” Now, Hobbs added, the practice facility is “unparalleled.”
Speaking during the ceremony, Ash said it was a “special day” for Rutgers football.
“This project took a lot of time and effort, and it shows that the people in this state and at Rutgers University can get things done and make a difference,” Ash said, thanking Hobbs, the Towers and other donors. “We look forward to getting the most out of this facility as we work to build a first-class football program.”
For Battaglia, who went on to play in the NFL for eight years, the opening of his namesake practice complex was an honor.
“This is a huge day for Rutgers football and Rutgers Athletics,” he said.
By the end of Battaglia's time as a Scarlet Knight, he led the school in reception yards, receptions, touchdowns and 100-yard games for tight ends.