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Locker room lockout, renovation plans do not include base of operations

The men's locker room under the bleachers of Wheelock Stadium show signs of water damage, and building insecurity in the small area that 140 members of the Riverside City College football team are expected to use during practice and games. Photo by Stephen Day, Viewpoints

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By Izaiah Cerratos

The Riverside City College football team has been forced to abandon its stadium locker room for offseason training. 

The Board of Trustees granted a $7.7 million budget for the renovations of Wheelock Stadium’s football field, stands and track. Two separate projects were announced in the plan. 

One project is designated to renovate the track and turf field. The other project is referred to as the “Wheelock Grandstand Seating Repair Project.” 

The football team locker room was left out of the budget and is set to remain the same despite renovations to the majority of the stadium happening this summer. Funds to refurbish the stands on both sides of the stadium were included to improve the bleacher’s safety for staff and fans.

The college fields a competitive team each year but has not supplied it with proper resources.

“We’ve asked (the administration) for a place to meet and for classroom space,” head coach Tom Craft said. “They’ve searched and there is no availability.”

As construction continues to occupy the inside of Wheelock Stadium, many players have audibled to a different locker room or changed their daily routine when gearing up for the 2023 offseason training program. 

Some have opted to come prepared and just drive into the parking lot ready to hit the field. Other players have switched to the locker room in the gymnasium.

“For right now it’s easier to change in the gym,” freshman Xavier Harvey said. “It’s right outside our practice field. (It’s) less of a walk for me and the guys.”

The renovations of the football track and field broke ground in early May and are set to be finished in time for the 2023 Fall semester. The idea of improving the facilities have been in talks for several months yet the football team locker room seemed to never be of concern.

However, the home side stands will not begin repairs until the field and track are finished. This will result in the home supporters being required to sit on the visitors side.

“(The college) will put additional seating on the visitors side and the end zones,” Craft said. “We won’t have seating on the home side anymore. The bleachers are not safe, they are condemned.”

With both the stands and locker room being unusable, the training staff for the team has been forced to move its headquarters into classrooms.

The locker room also gives the team and coaching staff a private area to watch film or discuss gameplans. That will not occur while renovations occur.

“I have no place to meet with my players,” Craft said. “When I need to have a team meeting I have to have it on the field. I can’t have guys sitting down and watching tape.”

The Tigers maintain the same work ethic despite the change and look to keep their minds focused on training as the off-season continues to be in full effect.

“Once we are back to having a football field and all the work is done we should be back in the football team locker room,” freshman Phillip Bangura said. 

Having a locker room that is on par with the field and track is optimal for training, performance and recovery for the football team. Unfortunately that won’t be the case in this wave of changes.

Environmental damage and safety concerns were amongst some of the reasons for the renovations. However, no plans or suggestions of improvements to the locker rooms inside the stadium were announced. 

The Tigers maintain the same work ethic despite the change and look to keep their minds focused on training as the off-season continues to be in full effect.

 “Once we are back to having a football field and all the work is done we should be back in the football team locker room,” freshman Phillip Bangura said. 

Having a locker room that is on par with the field and track is optimal for training, performance and recovery for the football team. Unfortunately that won’t be the case in this wave of changes.

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