Improvements Have All-Around Impact

Alabama's athletic facilities improvements have been ongoing for well over a year, but its biggest project, enclosure and seat expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium's north end zone, is expected to be underway in the coming days.

"Within two weeks they'll start fencing off and preparing the area," Alabama Director of Athletics Mal Moore said last Friday. "The north end zone (expansion) will be a two-year project."

The project will begin with site work and utility relocation in the coming days. Brice Building of Birmingham is the construction manager for the work at Bryant-Denny Stadium, which plans to add at least 7,000 seats and 38 luxury boxes to its capacity.

The facilities projects are in a transition stage, with the expected January completion of the Bryant Hall dormitory and academic center as well as the beginning work to Coleman Coliseum. Coliseum improvements include modernizing and widening the building's concourse area, adding a club area and new main entrance on the east side and providing more office space for UA coaches and staff.

The Coleman project began on October 4 under the construction management of Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie, and is in stages of utility relocation and deep foundations.

Once this portion of the work is complete towards the end of January there will be much more noticeable progress with the steel framing work that will begin.

The athletics facilities improvements to date include new soccer and tennis stadiums, an expanded training room and state-of-the art weight room for all athletes use, football locker rooms and expanded administrative area in the football complex.

"What we've accomplished to this date we're very please with," Moore said. "I'm very pleased, in particular with the football and the weight room complex - the training room/dressing room area here. The end result was outstanding."

Moore said the impact of the facilities' improvements on recruiting efforts has already been noticed by his coaches.

"I think what we've done is we've built exactly what Alabama needs to make a difference in the years to come," he said. "In '06 we will have finished our plans to date, then maintaining everything and winning games will be the end result."

The groundbreaking for the improvements took place in early 2003, beginning with a power housing unit for the athletic complex area. The brick building, surrounded by new wrought-iron fence also serves as an impressive marker and entrance area to the Sam Bailey track stadium.

Alabama Head Football Coach Mike Shula said the improvements made in football-related areas have had a big impact in his recruiting, especially when prospects are able to have a first-hand look at what has been built.

"We can brag on them when we're out on the road and they can see them on our web site and all that kind of stuff, but then when you get here it's even a lot nicer than what you see on a web site," Shula said. "I think that's important to a lot of people. It's real important, so we try to combine that with our coaching staff and the way we do things around here."

Shula said he gets questions about his facilities from prospects "all the time," and stays informed on the progress being made in facilities on a regular basis, even when he is on the road recruiting.

"I think the strength of Coach Shula will be recruiting, and these facilities will support that," Moore said. "But these facilities - the rehab area, the training room, the weight room - that supports all of our sports, both men and women. The academic center supports all of our athletes.

"These projects will make a difference in every sport. It's something that was desperately needed that we had just fallen behind, but in this one fell swoop we're making strides forward."

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