The project was also put on a fast track with plans calling for the 92,000 square foot facility to be ready for the start of the 2011 season.
The practice facility will be built along the south side of the current practice fields adjacent to Samford Avenue running east/west from the southside of the football complex next to the weight room.
Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said the facility, which will have a 100-yard field plus end zones, will be used by other sports teams such as soccer, track and field and baseball.
The estimated cost of the facility is $16.5 million and will be paid for by athletic department funds, AU officials said.
The current indoor facility, with a 40-yard field, could be converted into a strength and conditioning facility for Auburn's Olympic sports programs, Jacobs said.
The Tigers will have two outdoor practice fields to go with the indoor one. One of the outdoor fields, the one on the west side of the practice complex fields, will be oriented north-south. The indoor facility and another outdoor field will be oriented east-west.
Artist's rendering of the project. Looking from a spot near the old track you can see the indoor facility will run along Samford Ave. with another practice field running East-West alongside it. The third field will run North-South as they do now.
Jacobs said the project needed to be expedited to work around the football practice schedule so construction can begin in December of 2010 or January 2011 immediately after the upcoming season in order to be ready for the 2011 season.
In spring training in 2011 the Tigers should be able to use some of their current practice field area as well as Jordan-Hare Stadium. If more space is needed, the infield at the old Wilbur Hutsell Track and Field can be used, Jacobs said. "There is a 100-yard field inside the old track," the athletic director said.
"I think it is a big deal for Auburn, a big deal for all of our sports," Jacobs said of the indoor practice facility, noting that it can be used for a variety of sports.
Jacobs said he received input from head football coach Gene Chizik on the project. "It is important to him, but at the same time it was all part of our master plan," the athletic director noted.
Coach Gene Chizik
One of Chizik's suggestions was to put air-conditioning in the facility based on his experience as defensive coordinator at the University of Texas where the Longhorns had that feature in their indoor facility. "The thing Gene learned is that you can go out there in the middle of the summer for an hour, hour-and-a-half and then come back inside for another 30 or 45 minutes where you can get a lot of teaching done and that cuts down on injuries," Jacobs said. "I think that all of our teams will find that beneficial including soccer, track, softball and baseball."
The Tigers currently practice outdoors on two grass fields and one artificial turf field that are oriented east-west. At times they use their 40-yard indoor facility, the John Watson Fieldhouse, that is expected to be turned into a training facility for the Olympic sports teams.
What the inside of the practice facility should look like when it's finished.
The two outdoor practice fields that will be closest to the football complex will be re-oriented to run east-west. One of those will be the indoor facility and the other field will be either grass or artificial turf. Jacobs noted that a sun study will need to be made to make sure a grass field will be successful next to the indoor facility, which will cast a shadow. The grass field on the west end of the practice field, which runs north-south, will be unchanged.
Chizik noted that he is excited about the news. "I want to thank Jay Jacobs, President Gogue and the Trustees for approving this project," he said. "This is a huge step forward for our football facilities, and we are pleased that it will also benefit other sports at Auburn as well. The multi-purpose indoor facility will complement the renovations made at the Auburn Athletic Complex the past several years and the ongoing improvements at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"Thanks to the vision Jay has for the athletic department and the support of Dr. Gogue and the Trustees, Auburn*s facilities are in great shape and are only getting better, which is important for our recruits and for our fans."
Jacobs noted that the current indoor football facility, the Watson Fieldhouse, is a "perfect" spot to put in weight rooms and other training facilities for teams that will be displaced when Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum is demolished.
Jacobs said it will be good to have the athletes and support staff close to each other and located next to the their academics center.
The athletic director said plans are still being worked out on where to put offices for the volleyball, swimming and diving and the equestrian teams that are located in the coliseum. He noted there is a possibility that the volleyball team can get a locker room and office space in the new Student Wellness Center where the Student Activities Center is currently located. He said there shouldn't be a problem adding office space at the indoor pool facility for the swimming teams and there are several options on where to put offices for the equestrian team, which trains and competes at the vet school property on wire road.