Facility plans nearing completion

An official timetable for projected starting and completion dates remains several weeks in the future, but this past weekend Tide Athletics Director Mal Moore indicated that plans for renovations of Alabama athletic facilities are proceeding. <br><br>"There are a lot of details that must be worked out by the architects," Moore said. "But Bryant Hall, a new tennis facility and adding on to the Football Complex are at the top of the list."

"The architects are still finalizing the drawings. We've got a lot of work to do."

Paul W. Bryant Hall will be totally renovated and converted into a spectacular, three-story academic support center that will assist all the student-athletes at the University. In conjunction, a new 120-room dormitory will be built, which will house freshmen and sophomore football players as well as students from the School of Engineering.

Paul Bryant Hall will take on new life, as the original structure will be renovated into a state-of-the-art academic center. Note the new Engineering dormitory added on to the left, which will guarantee compliance with NCAA regulations. Freshman and sophomore football players will be housed here, along with the Engineering students. Also, note at the top a dining center will be built, serving the athletes, engineering students and other enrolled students as well.

Moore said that the work on Bryant Hall would likely begin as soon as the final drawings are completed. "There is nothing to slow us down on Bryant Hall," he said. "Bryant Hall and the tennis and soccer plans could start now."

Logistics will also contribute to work on the new Outdoor Tennis facility and Soccer fields beginning quickly. The fields near the existing Recreation Center are currently available, meaning that work will probably get underway soon. A new Tennis Complex will be built near the recreation center and a Soccer Complex, including a new stadium, will be built around the current playing fields.

Based on priorities, the addition to the Alabama Football Complex building is also at the top of the list. The Football Complex will be expanded and renovated to include a new weight room that will cover 22,000 square feet, revitalized dressing rooms, a new squad room and recruiting center and additional office space. The current weight room area will be converted into an expanded and modernized training area as well as a state of the art rehabilitation center.

Looking at the front of the Football Complex with the addition on the right. The new weight room will take up the entire bottom floor with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out front and back. Offices and meeting rooms will take up the second floor area. Also note that the main entrance will be redone, with the receptionist brought down to the ground floor.

The annex will be added onto the existing building and will take up space currently occupied by two tennis courts. It is designed to fit well into the current face of the building, with ground-floor and second-floor spaces connected.

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Pollard has consulted frequently with the architects. The drawings have not yet been finalized, but tentative plans call for the weight room (which will take up the entire new ground floor area) to have a sunken floor, increasing the ceiling height in the area. Besides state-of-the-art equipment, the weight room is expected to include a short indoor track to be used by Coach Pollard's staff in timing and conditioning work.

Though high on the priority list, work on the Football Complex will likely be delayed until the new Tennis Complex is completed. At that point, the existing Tennis Stadium would be razed, making room for a construction staging area next to the Football Complex. When construction on the annex is finished, that area will be used to extend the two current ‘half' practice fields to 100-yard lengths.

Fans will remember that when the improvements were first announced, the inclusion of plans to enclose the North end of Bryant-Denny Stadium came as a surprise to most. The north end zone area of Bryant-Denny Stadium will be expanded that would include additional sky boxes and a club level area as well as traditional upper deck seating. A plaza area leading to the north end zone expansion will also be included. The plaza area will create a landscape that will not only vividly enhance the appearance of Bryant-Denny but also the entire campus.

Because of a mix-up in some of the drawings shown at that time, many fans have worried whether or not the new upper deck would be free-standing or a continuous part of the existing structure. But Coach Moore assured us that the new sky boxes and upper-deck seating would merge continuously with the existing structure.

A completely new Tennis Stadium will be constructed next to the present recreational tennis courts, one side for women and the other for men. Note the structure down the middle. Fans will sit on top, with offices and locker rooms underneath. Once the new Tennis Complex is complete, the old stadium will be leveled, allowing the two 'short' football fields to be extended to 100-yard lengths. Any left-over space from the present Tennis Stadium would then be used for parking.

In addition to Bryant Hall, the Football Complex, new Soccer Fields and a new Tennis Stadium, other athletic improvements in the current plans include:

  • The Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Area was refurbished with a new surface, the AstroPlay turf on which Alabama team competed at the Independence Bowl. That work is finished and currently in use by Tide athletes.
  • Coleman Coliseum will undergo a thorough modernization that will dramatically improve the venue including a new lobby, coaches' offices, concourse and seating areas.

Obviously, the necessity of accommodating fans for men's and women's basketball, gymnastics and volleyball will be vital in the architects' plans for work on Coleman Coliseum.

Heery International, Inc., who spearheaded the west and east side expansions of Bryant-Denny, has been retained to continue the development of The University of Alabama Athletic Complex. Heery is located in Atlanta, Ga., and further information may be obtained at their web site: www.Heery.com.

Also, PH&J Architects, Inc., of Montgomery, Ala., assisted in this project, helping develop the master plan for the facilities. For further information about PH&J call 334-265-8781.

Donations for half the cost of the renovations will come from the Alabama supporters, and that stated goal is raise $50 million. Bond issues will fund the expansion of Bryant-Denny.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Alabama's Department of Media Relations contributed to this report.

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