STILLWATER — Walk inside the Sherman E. Smith Training Center, the newest piece of Oklahoma State's immense facilities upgrade, and it's easy to feel engulfed by the massive 92,000-square-foot structure.
It's also easy to notice it feels a bit stuffy.
You see, the Cowboys' sparkling indoor practice facility has fabric doors that roll up to let air flow in. But the tour guide on this day has not yet gone through the proper training to open said doors.
That's one of the unique qualities of the $19-million Smith Center, a facility that will immediately become another recruiting asset for the Cowboys and a place the football team has already begun staging summer workouts to escape the rain and sun.
“Nobody has a facility like this,” OSU megabooster Boone Pickens boasted to the athletic department's Cowboy Roundup show during construction last year.
Until the Smith Center's completion, OSU was the only football program in the Big 12 without an indoor practice facility.
The structure features the familiar brick exterior that allows it to blend with the rest of the buildings on campus. Inside, there's a full artificial-turf football field that can also be expanded into a full soccer field. The ceilings are high enough for punting and kicking drills and for the baseball and softball teams to field pop-ups.
Tackling dummies have already found a home on the sidelines of the facility. Along the north and south sides are stairs that lead to platforms that overlook the field to film practice. Along the east and west sides are 16 fans that help circulate the air from outside.
The facility is named after Sherman Smith, a late friend of Pickens and OSU athletic director Mike Holder who donated $20 million for construction and maintenance of the structure.
“Boone and Sherman had a lot in common,” Holder said. “They were both raised in small Oklahoma towns, were fraternity brothers at OSU, made their living in the oil patch, and shared the same birthday, five years apart.
“Since 2003 they have played a leading role in the transformation of our football program and athletic facilities. OSU will be forever indebted to them for their generosity and the standard they have set for future generations of Cowboys. Our challenge will be to recruit the very best athletes to train and perform in these great facilities.”
Outside, plenty of construction still rolls on.
Workers were seen installing the outdoor artificial field Friday afternoon, which complements two natural grass fields adjacent to the Smith Center. The rest of area surrounding the field is largely comprised of dirt, with plenty of machinery still present.
Yet after years of waiting, OSU has its indoor practice facility, a prime addition to the West End Zone renovations unveiled four years prior.
“When I first walked in I was like, ‘Finally,'” receiver Tracy Moore said. “They told me this was going to be built before I got here, and it's finally built.”