— TROY, Ala. (AP) — The Troy Trojans are making a $73 million investment in their athletic program with a new basketball arena and ambitious plans to upgrade football facilities over the next few years.
Football coach Larry Blakeney said the Trojans might have become the Boise State of the South if this extensive makeover had started during a five-year run as Sun Belt Conference champions instead of after two losing seasons and lagging recruiting.
"If men's basketball and football aren't successful, you are not considered a top-flight Division I athletic program. Period," Blakeney, who's approaching his 23rd season, told The Associated Press on Thursday. "That's not being selfish, because I'm not selfish. But we've won five straight championships and somewhere in the midst of all that, if we had broken ground out here, it would have been an explosion.
"And we might have been in a position to have been a Boise State, which I hear everybody talking about. I'll take Boise State's budget and Boise State's staffing and Boise State's facilities today. I've never been out there but I'll swap."
Troy athletic director John Hartwell, who took over last October, said the best-case scenario is for the projected $28 million facility in the North end zone to be ready by the 2015 season "if we hit a couple of home runs" in fundraising, but figures 2-4 years is more realistic. It will be paid for through private donations and corporate sponsorships plus revenue from some 14 luxury boxes.
The $40 million Trojan Arena opened last season. Facility upgrades for golf, tennis and softball are planned or in the works with projected price tags totaling $5 million.
Hartwell said Troy has raised just over $1 million toward the football facility, which will include a weight room, locker rooms and coaching and administrative offices. A rendering leans against the wall just behind his desk.