"It'd be nice to have an indoor facility," Mark Richt said. "Right now, that's No. 1 on my list."
A multi-purpose indoor facility, which would cost 10s of millions of
dollars, would include a practice field for the No. 3 Bulldogs as well
as a track with seating for events. Georgia (1-0) had to bus to the
Atlanta Falcons' indoor training facility in Flowery Branch on Tuesday
to prepare for Saturday's game against South Carolina (1-0, 1-0 SEC).
It was the Bulldogs' second trip this season to Flowery Branch and
it's possible they will have to go again today. Georgia also cut one
workout short due to weather.
Each round trip to the Falcons' facility takes about two-and-a-half
hours of the team's day, Richt said. However, there is little option, he
said. The Bulldogs can practice in the Ramsey Center on campus, but they
have to work on hardwood floors, making it impossible to run full speed
drills or have any contact.
"If we had to spend today and tomorrow in the Ramsey Center, we
wouldn't get better," he said. "It's early in the year, and we need to
get better. It's very difficult to get better if you don't get on a
field of play."
Georgia, Florida and Vanderbilt are the only Southeastern Conference
schools without indoor facilities, Richt said.
"Everyone else has one. Does that mean we need to have one? Maybe,
maybe not," Georgia athletic director Damon Evans said. "I asked
at Kentucky how often they used theirs and they said hardly at all."
There are currently no plans for an indoor facility and no timetable
for one, Evans said.
"We have to take a look at the financial end of something of that
magnitude," he said. "Obviously, it's important to our football coach.
I'm not going to say it wouldn't be beneficial, but I think we have to
weigh everything. Because (Richt) has a strong interest, I think it's
something we should explore."
During Jim Donnan's tenure at Georgia, the school drew up plans for an
indoor facility that would have cost between $25 and $30 million. Since
the facility Richt envisions would be more elaborate than that and the
rising cost of construction means " it would cost a lot more" now,
That's a huge chunk of money for an Athletic Association already $92
million in debt. Since Richt took over the football program, Georgia has
spent $50 million on improvements and expansions to Sanford Stadium and
more than $5 million on renovations to the Bulldogs' current practice
"We've made some pretty strong commitments to football, and I know
from talking to Mark that he feels good about those," Evans said.
The fact that the school would like to make renovations to Stegeman
Coliseum and the dire financial picture of the university as a whole
have to be accounted for when thinking about building an indoor
facility, Evans said. State budget cuts might cost Georgia's academic
side $16 million in the future.
"I think it's important for us as an Athletic Association to be
somewhat sensitive to what is going on with the total university in
terms of budget cuts," Evans said. "That's not to say I won't push
things forward, but, at the same time, I think we would be sensitive to
what is going around us."
Evans said no decision has been made about whether Stegeman Coliseum
improvements or a practice facility would be the top priority if money
"If 100 million dollars fell out of the sky that would make it very
easy," he said. "I would say let's tear up the ground and get
If that happens, Richt has the plans already sketched out in his head.
He said he would like to have a new weight room on the bottom floor,
administrative offices on the second floor and a dining hall that
overlooked the practice facility on the third floor. The dining hall
would be open to all UGA students, he said. A parking complex could also
be built along with the facility to alleviate some of the school's
parking problems, Richt said.
"I'm not exactly sure where it sits in the big picture for our
Athletic Association, but I know that if somebody wanted to earmark
dollars for an indoor facility, I don't think the association would say
no," he said.
Evans confirmed that having one or more donors contribute large
amounts of money specifically for an indoor facility would be the
quickest part toward getting it done.
"I'm not going to speculate on time because you never know what is
going to happen," he said. "If a donor comes in, it could be sooner
rather than later."
Richt Lobbies for Indoor Practice Facility
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