Crews Busy On Auburn Indoor Football Facility

A report on Auburn's new multi-million football indoor practice facility project is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's new indoor football practice facility project is on schedule to be ready for the start of preseason practice. That is the word from Randy Byars, Auburn's director of facility planning.

"It has been a challenge with rain blocking our way every week, but the steel is going up and we are starting to see the roof and the sides go up," Byars tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.

"July 29 is the dead day," he notes. "That is our target. That gives us enough room to get everything ready by the time camp starts. The indoor facility is coming along great and we are still on schedule."

With spring football practice scheduled to start on March 23rd the construction project means the Tigers will not have access to their three practice fields at the football complex for AU's 15 days of spring drills. Instead the Tigers will head across Samford Avenue and practice at the women's soccer field as well as the infield area of the Hutsell-Rosen Track and Field. The Saturday practices are expected to be held at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Those are the three places the Tigers practiced to prepare for the BCS Championship Game prior to flying to Arizona where they worked out at Scottsdale Community College.

A view of the indoor practice building is shown from the southwest side of the project. Construction crews having been putting in long hours on the project that is on a tight schedule.

In addition to the new indoor facility there will be other upgrades to Auburn's football practice fields. Lighting, which was less than desirable, will be improved significantly. "

"We never were able to determine exactly when the lights went up on the practice field," Byars says. "They just sort of appeared sometime in the 1970s, I guess. We are getting new towers that are about 90 feet tall that will significantly upgrade the lighting. It will look like daytime at night."

The portable towers that were used to take video of practices will be gone. "We have new permanent towers coming in, very tall camera towers that will be positioned much better for filming practices. They will be nice towers and they will be wired in to a central place."

The new indoor facility runs east-west and will be attached to the back of the football complex weight room area.

"The plan is for the new facility to be open around the first of August when fall football camp starts," Byars says. "We will move all of the equipment out of the existing football weight room to a temporary location, probably inside the Watson Fieldhouse because we won't need the fieldhouse as much anymore.

"Then we will renovate the interior of the weight room and it will be expanded as it is connected to the new indoor facility," Byars says. "It is time to replace the floor and redo the paint and make it look nicer so this is a good opportunity to do that."

The Watson Fieldhouse is where the Tigers currently train and practice in bad weather. However, it isn't large enough to conduct a full squad practice. That won't be the case with the new facility.

"It will be a full football field length with plenty of buffer around the sides of the field so you don't immediately run into walls when you got out of bounds," Byars points out. "I think we have at least 25 feet of space past the end zone on one side of the field and the other one is a little bit tighter because of the building on the east side. The 25 feet is almost exactly the same as the south end zone at the stadium."

Byars says he hopes the construction crew can have dry weather for the next seven to 10 days to make sure the project stays on schedule.

"This part they are putting on now is the first deck," he says. "Then there will be an insulation shield on top of that. Then they will install the main metal roof. It will be a neutral beige type of color like the McWhorter Center.

"The roof will be installed in enormously long strips of metal that will be generated from a reel of metal," Byars notes. "A big tractor trailer spits out these things and it shoots over the roof. They are 18-inch wide metal strips and you overlap them. The thing you want is that they are continuous from side to side so you don't have seams. It will be interesting to see how that works."

The new facility will contain 92,000 square feet and will cost $16 million. Athletic Director Jay Jacobs says that in addition to football it will be available for use by other Auburn sports teams.

Previously, Auburn had three outdoor football practice fields in addition to the Watson Fieldhouse, which might be converted into training rooms and a sports medicine facility. Two of the outdoor fields were grass and one was artificial turf. When the new project is done the Tigers will have two outdoor grass fields and one indoor artificial turf field.

The view of the facility is from the northeast.

The larger of the two outdoor practice fields will run east-west and will be around 130 to 140 yards long. The field farthest from the complex will run north-south and will be approximately 70 to 80 yards long.

"Our target date for laying sod is the first part of June," Byars says. "We have a sod that is being specially grown for us on the type of soil that we will be using on the new practice fields.

"We have very little time to grow it in,"?he points out. "The sod is being grown so it will tack, hold and be stable knowing we are going to be practicing on it real quick. This is something we planned well in advance knowing the time constraints are going to be real tight."

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