The $15 million project will break ground this week and be completed by early September. It will be funded through private gifts and capital financing. The facility will be built on the current Sanders Football Practice Fields, just north of the baseball stadium, and take the place of the most eastern practice field that is closest to the O’Connell Center.
The facility, set with a 120-yard synthetic turf practice field, will include additional space on the north end of the field, three camera platforms, satellite training room facilities, equipment storage and restrooms.
“This is something we have talked about internally for some time,” said Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley. “We have always been able to utilize the O’Connell Center as an indoor option for the football team, but with the renovation starting this spring, it will no longer be available.”
Florida also said that the facility will be open to other Gator sports throughout the year as needed.
When weather impacted practices in the past, the Gators were forced to move inside the O’Connell Center, the Florida Gym or cancel practice. Florida estimated that 30 practices were impacted by weather last season. The indoor facility will have overhead roll-up doors on both sides for ventilation and to allow the team easy access to all three fields.
Outside of the indoor facility, the practice fields will also have two uncovered grass fields, one that will be 120 yards and the other will be 70 yards. The doors on the indoor facility will make sure the coaches and players aren’t stuck practicing on the indoor field and will be able to move to the outdoor fields as much as they would like. The most important part is the ability for Florida to avoid weather delays in practice, and while it won’t be ready for the spring, having fall practice free from rain will be important to first-year head coach Jim McElwain.