- Free Agency
A barber chair.
Yes, a barber chair sits in a room just off the Roughriders’ new locker room.
It may be the single item that shows you just how much detail and thought those who designed the living space for the Riders in their new home put into making it the jewel and envy of the Canadian Football League.
Current Riders vice-president of football operations and administration Jeremy O’Day was a big part of the planning process to ensure the football ops and players had everything they needed (and more – see barber chair) to have a home away from home.
He’s been there as a player, seeing a chair in the middle of the locker room with towels strewn on the floor as a player would take on the role of in-house barber, trimming teammates’ hair.
That’s where the idea of the barber chair started and a room that was sitting as extra space in the construction of the Riders massive locker room was penciled in and is now a reality.
There is no question the Roughriders have the best football operations facility in the league.
They spent 10s of millions of dollars on their near-50,000 square foot spot in Mosaic Stadium and the players are more than pleased moving from the old place, where finding a water bucket to catch a drip was more than common place.
The new football ops department has two floors and no need for buckets.
Upstairs is where you find Head Coach Chris Jones’ office as well as his coaching staff and the rest of the football operations department.
A fair size lobby highlights the team’s four Grey Cup Championships and their rabid fan base.
Turn right and a wall has a full size clock that will count down to game day. When the media was given a tour, it was counting down to Mark’s CFL Week and the CFL Combine presented by adidas.
Further, you find the 120-seat team meeting room with leather seats all adorning the Riders logo, with fold up desks and power. That’s also where you find each positional meeting room that pays tributes to legends of the past.
Quarterbacks will see a full size photo and stats of the legendary Ron Lancaster, running backs will have George Reed to aspire to, linebackers will find out why Eddie Lowe is so revered in Rider Nation and the offensive linemen will be inspired by two local products and legends Gene Makowsky and Roger Aldag.
Something to Behold: A look inside New Mosaic Stadium
As you stroll further, that’s where you find the Riders’ strength and conditioning coach ready to rehab, work out or condition the members of the Green and White.
The gym has everything a team needs, including a 22-yard-long turf field for various drills.
The lower level is for the players and equipment team. However, between the two floors you find an impressive stairwell with a back-lit team photo that is another impressive extra feature to wow any new prospect or pending free agent.
When you arrive on the second floor you see the players and family lounge. Inside, a full kitchen, blenders, toasters, and a large seating area to hang out and a place families can gather post game. A feature wall shows the awards Roughriders have won in the past. Whether it be Hall of Fame inductees, the team’s own Plaza of Honor inductees or CFL Most Outstanding Player awards, it’s another spotlight on the history of the organization.
So we leave the best for last.
The locker room.
It is the largest in the CFL, totalling 4,500 square feet.
The equipment staff is stationed just outside the locker room with nearly triple the space they had at the old stadium. Stacked storage to save space and also cubbies with numbers for each player to store what is needed for the day (towels, etc).
There is also a large display case with three mannequins that are currently adorned with three uniforms the team will wear in 2017.
Inside the locker room, the Rider logo on the ceiling glows, as does each locker.
Each locker has a ‘jewel box’ that is lit with LED lights that shine off the helmets. Also each locker is powered, with air control, and more than enough elbow room.
Receiver Naaman Roosevelt has played in the NFL and mentioned to me he believes the Riders room would likely be among the top locker rooms when compared to the 32 National Football League teams.
That takes you back to the barber chair and into the athletic therapists’ space. Again, triple the size of their old home and also includes three tubs (hot, cold and under water tread mill). The under water treadmill is equipped with cameras so the trainers can watch how a player may be running on a sprained ankle or how they may be favouring one leg over the other while in rehab.
Roosevelt has already tested that out as he comes back from a season ending knee injury in 2016.
The Riders said ‘state of the art’ when describing what their new home would be and that is exactly what it is and then some.