Georgia has zeroed in on a location to build a new indoor practice facility and the expected cost has increased considerably.
The UGA Athletic Association board of directors went into a behind closed doors executive session for about 20 minutes during its quarterly meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Georgia Center to discuss a “real estate transaction.”
No action was taken, but the Hoke Smith Annex area adjacent to Stegeman Coliseum is the spot that has become the focus for where to place the long desired building to be used by the football program and other sports, athletic director Greg McGarity said.
Georgia would use some “donor support” to help pay for a project now with a price tag of about $30 million.
“We have one chance to get it right and we do not want to compromise,” McGarity said after the meeting. “This building will be here forever. …We want to get everything we want in this building and do it the right way.”
McGarity said he did not know if the Athletic Association, a nonprofit corporation that runs Georgia athletics, would have to purchase the area owned by the university.
“Those are the things that we talked about that we have to explore and discuss,” McGarity said.
The site is located off S. Lumpkin Street between Smith Street and Sanford Drive beyond the existing practice fields.
“It’s not within our fence line,” McGarity said of the area. “That complicates things.”
The Hoke Smith Annex, which houses the CAES Cooperative Extension Service, could have to be torn down for a building that is estimated to be 80 yards wide and 140 yards long and 65 feet high. There’s also a parking lot in the area.
“It has been a challenge for almost two decades and so trying to come up with an option that makes the best sense for athletics and the university is the priority,” McGarity said.
Building the indoor facility nearby the Butts-Mehre building, which houses the football offices and locker rooms, on the South end of the campus is what coach Mark Richt has said he preferred.
The board approved $400,000 in September for architects to design and come up with options for where the indoor facility might go.
“To me the biggest issue is fitting it within this precinct and preserving the tract which we believe is very important,” UGA president Jere Morehead said. “That’s been the work that athletics and this outside firm has been involved in.”
McGarity told the board “the wheels are turning very quickly,” on the project but has not said
a date when construction could begin.
“I would just say we are moving very quickly, as quickly as possible,” he later said.
The project won’t be completed in 2015, but further action could be taken when the board meets next in May.
“I would hope the process would be sooner rather than later,” Morehead said.
“We have funds set aside to obviously move forward in the planning process with our architects,” McGarity said. “There’s just so many areas that have to covered with the building of this magnitude.”
Georgia’s current outdoor fields could “potentially” be impacted by the indoor facility.
McGarity had talked last year about the facility costing in the $15 million range, but the scope has grown.
The $30 million figure is more than several schools currently have allocated funds for their new indoor practice facilities, according to reports.
Florida broke ground on a $15 million IPF. Virginia Tech is expected to have a $21.3 million facility completed by August, N.C. State is spending $14 million on its new facility and Syracuse $13 million on its.
Then there is Maryland which has a $155 million plan to turn Cole Field House into an indoor football practice facility.
Georgia renovated and expanded the Butts-Mehre building with a 53,000 square foot project finished in 2011. It included a multipurpose room with a turf field that is suitable for team functions but at 20 yards by 60 yards not for getting quality practice work done indoors during inclement weather.
Fundraising has started “very quietly,” so far, McGarity said.
Georgia’s current reserves are $67.78 million, according to Ryan Nesbit, UGA’s vice president for finance and administration. Funding models will be talked about in the coming weeks with a committee, McGarity said.
No renderings for the IPF were presented at the board meeting because Georgia does not want the information public and wants the approval process not to be impacted, McGarity said.
In other business at the meeting:
–Nearly $5 million was approved from reverse funds to pay for five projects. The Sanford Stadium Sky Club will be refurbished for $3 million in time for this season. Other projects: $705,000 for refurbishment of concessions in the stadium; $600,000 for construction in Stegeman Coliseum and Butts-Mehre for “grab and go” areas for snacks for athletes; $350,000 for weight room construction in Stegeman for Olympic Sports and $300,000 for two more indoor tennis courts for a total of six.
–Executive associate athletic director Carla Williams has been promoted to deputy director of athletics, McGarity said. Christie Purks (event management) and Melvin Robinson (facility operations) are now assistant athletic directors. Assistant athletic director Charles Whittemore, who oversaw the upgrades to Foley Field, is retiring at the end of the month after 37 years with athletics, including three years as a starting wide receiver.
–A center-hanging scoreboard, it was revealed, is in the works for Stegeman.