Ground broken for facilities upgrade

With fund raising well underway, ground was ceremoniously broken Saturday on the $100 million comprehensive project to expand and modernize Alabama's athletics facilities.

Beginning with construction next to the Crisp Indoor Facility, involving utilities, the work will move quickly to a renovation of Bryant Hall into a state-of-the-art academic center, expansion and renovation of the Football Complex, addition of a new strength and conditioning center, construction of the women's soccer stadium and the men's and women's tennis stadiums.

Completion of the soccer stadium is scheduled for late 2003 with the others completed in 2004.

Surrounded by athletes from all of the Tide's various sports teams, Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore introduced the various dignitaries to the crowd. Moore expects the facilities expansion to be the the centerpiece of his tenure as Athletics Director.

Coach Moore explained that The University is currently in the process of selecting architects for the two other major projects, modernizing Coleman Coliseum and a north endzone expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Head Football Coach Mike Price jokingly told the crowd that his ceremonial hard hat was "the closest I want to come to working with a shovel." Because the renovations involve the Football Complex and Bryant-Denny Stadium, many fans assume they're targeted exclusively for the football team. But every Alabama sports team will benefit.

"These are exciting projects that will benefit all our student-athletes in a way that will have far-reaching and long-lasting rewards," Moore said. "We want facilities that will allow our coaches and athletes to compete at the national championship level.

Coach Price (left), Coach Moore (center) and Paul Bryant Jr. listen to a contingent from the Million Dollar Band play the Alabama fight song. Bryant is a member of The University's Board of Trustees and the Chairman of the Crimson Tradition Fund Raising Committee.

Of the 50 million dollars that will be raised through private donations, more than 25 million has been secured in the first year. The 50 million in private giving will be matched with another 50 million from a bond issue.

Members of the fund raising committee, Coach Price, Coach Moore and other luminaries turn over the ceremonial first shovel of dirt.

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