COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland football took a step up in class yesterday.
Coach Mark Duffner and his staff and equipment manager, Ron Ohringer, moved into the $6.7 million team house, a project launched in the mid-1980s after then-coach Bobby Ross' continuing complaints about the decaying football facilities.
"This is terrific, as good as any in the country," Duffner said. "It's everything that people hoped and prayed for.
"A lot of good people helped make this a reality for the coaches and players. The training and strength facilities are second to none. It's a real recruiting tool."
Situated at the open end of the Byrd Stadium horseshoe, in front of the main scoreboard, the new two-story building includes coaches' offices, home team and visitor locker rooms, a players' lounge and training, meeting and film rooms.
The weight room, with a skylight and mirrored walls, is the building's showplace.
"Of the 45,000 square feet, 7,000 is for the weight room, making it almost three times larger than the old weight room," said associate athletic director Jeff Gray, who supervised the project.
The Terps players have double lockers, 6 feet high, and carpeted benches with storage bins underneath. There are whirlpools for rehabilitation and 40 shower heads, plus 21 in the visitors' locker room.
"This is better than most pro locker rooms," kicker Dave DeArmas said. "Better than the Minnesota Vikings', and it blows the doors off Redskin Park.
"We'll feel like we're playing for a top-notch Division I program. Everything's top of the line."
The players didn't move into the building yesterday, but will before the season starts. When the old team building is vacated, it will undergo a 15-month renovation and then be occupied by baseball, field hockey and men's and women's soccer, lacrosse, track and cross country.
First and five
For the first time, Maryland football fans will have to pay for parking.
The charge: $5 for cars, $10 for recreational vehicles. Season-ticket holders can buy parking passes, although not at a reduced cost ($30 for cars for six home games, $60 for recreational vehicles).
"The athletic department and the president's office got a lot of complaints last year about traffic snarls entering and leaving campus and bad behavior in parking lots stemming from alcohol abuse," Gray said.
"Our response was to add personnel. So we have to pay overtime for more state police and also bring in more campus police and parking attendants. If there's a surplus of money from the parking fees, it'll go to campus parking, not the athletic department."
Ticket ticker still counting
Season-ticket sales have reached 10,500, about 300 shy of last year's total. Ticket manager Jack Zane expects another "500 or 600" to be sold before the home opener against North Carolina State on Sept. 12.
"The 10,800 last season was our best in several years," Zane said. "Our all-time best was 20,000-plus in 1985, when we were picked No. 1 in the preseason by Sport magazine."