New details emerged this afternoon regarding the indoor practice facility set to open in Athens during a conference call this afternoon. First and foremost, it was announced that the UGA Athletic Association Board has approved the project. Though that wasn’t unexpected, it is a critical step that now moves the project into actual construction rather than just a pretty architectural rendering. Athletic Director Greg McGarity said that the first stage will be site analysis and preparation. Engineers actually began taking soil samples from the area around the Woodruff Practice Fields back in June. But now they can begin the process of digging down 12 feet into the Clarke County soil to begin laying the groundwork for the massive space.
The UGA Athletic Association told writers that the building will be 80 yards wide, 140 yards long and 65 feet high inside (which should allow room for some placekicking and punting, though not necessarily all of it). The total budgeted cost for the building is confirmed to be $30,200,000, with half coming from Athletic Association cash reserves and the other half coming from private donations. By contrast, the facility recently opened at the University of Florida is a $17,000,000 project. South Carolina’s new indoor digs came with a $14,500,000 price tag.
While the publicity surrounding the project has been decidedly football-centered, the folks in Butts-Mehre have been very clear that it’s not only a football facility. On the contrary, the new space will include a five lane indoor track as well as tunnels and batting cages for softball and baseball. McGarity also promised that aesthetic concerns will not be forgotten. The goal here is clearly to build a facility that, if not lapping the field in the SEC, is comparable to anything built on any other league campus. McGarity made reference during the call to the building being in use for "50 to 100 years" which is a daunting possibility indeed, and all the more reason to get this project right the first time. Until later . . .