'Think mahogany'

With actual work on the addition to the Football Complex now underway, specific details regarding the new weight room and renovated facility are of interest.

According to Thad Turnipseed, who is coordinating the various construction projects now benefiting the Alabama athletics department, there is good financial news regarding the addition and renovation. Cost overruns are always a possibility with major construction projects, but on paper at least the current bid for the Football Complex project is $16.357 million. That is more than $5 million less than the original estimate of $21.872 million.

Though most of the early work was done last week, the official start date for the project was May 22, 2003. Completion of the annex, a new section of building added onto the North end of the existing Football Complex, is projected for the first week of December, 2003.

Artist's rendering of the completed Football Complex, focusing on the new weight room area to the Northeast.

The new construction will add more than 30,000 square feet of space to the facility. A brand-new weight room will take up the ground floor of the new area almost entirely.

Fans have been anxiously calling for a new weight room for several years now, and plans indicate they won't be disappointed. Marked by floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the newly expanded practice fields, the new weight room will push Alabama to the front of the line among college programs. Besides a great deal of extra space and state-of-the-art equipment, the new weightlifting area will even feature an indoor track running the length of the room.

The second floor of the annex will feature corner offices for the Head Coach (Northwest corner) and Director of Football Operations (Northeast corner). A significant portion of the floor space will be taken up by a reception area, luxuriously furnished to entertain recruits and their families. On game day mornings when commonly scores of potential recruits and their families visit the campus unofficially, the new recruiting reception room will provide an ideal area for coaches to meet and visit with prospects.

NOTE: tentative plans call for the Athletics Director to take over the Head Coach's old corner office, located at the Southwest corner of the building. At this point no decision has been made on how the Southeast corner office, currently occupied by Mal Moore, will be used.

View of the existing locker room. In the renovated facility the locker room area will be more than twice as large, with players no longer separated into different rooms.

Fans should understand that construction of the Annex is only a portion of the renovations to the Football Complex. Once the new construction is finished, and the weight room and coaches have moved into the new part of the building, work will begin in earnest on the renovation of the present facility.

Renovation of the existing floor space will be extensive with the entire building basically being made over from top to bottom. Major components of the renovation include:

1. Moving the training room from its existing spot next to the locker rooms (bottom floor Northeast in the present building) to the space currently occupied by the weight room. The new training area will take up the South ground floor of the new building and will feature state-of-the art equipment, including pools for training and rehabilitation. With the move the training room area will be more than doubled.

2. Removing walls and adding the old training room area to the player locker rooms. Presently there are two separate locker rooms, one for varsity and one for walk-on athletes. Those will be combined into an expanded, significantly more luxurious area.

3. A Hall of Fame Hallway, highlighting the renovated ground floor of the Football Complex, prominently featuring great athletes from Bama's storied football past. Only those with "serious accomplishments" to their credit (All Americans, College Football Hall of Fame members, championship coaches, etc.) need apply.

4. A new entryway to the building will bring the receptionist to the ground floor. Presently visitors to the building enter the door into an empty room and must take the stairs or an elevator to the second floor before they find a human face.

Fans visit the Bryant-Denny locker room last summer. "Think mahogany," is the operative phrase when describing plans for renovating the existing Football Complex.

People that have seen specific plans for the interior of the finished building have come away very impressed. "Imagine the lobby of a first-class hotel in New York City, or the entryway of a billion-dollar bank," was how one person described the plans. "Think mahogany--lots of mahogany."

In fact, what delays there were in designing the new Football Complex were almost always the result of Athletics Director Mal Moore asking the architects to try again. Invariably they were sent away with the marching orders to "make it nicer."

The projected completion date for all of the work, including interior and exterior renovations to the existing building, is July 15, 2004.

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