Evaluating Southeastern Conference football facilities."> Evaluating Southeastern Conference football facilities.">

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<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01columnists/gswindoll.jpg" align="left" width="120" height="161"> Evaluating Southeastern Conference football facilities.

With the recent firing of Ole Miss' head football coach David Cutcliffe, the Ole Miss administration made a point of referencing their new Indoor Practice Facility as a way of showing how dedicated they are to their football program. But, as we all know, there is more to a football program's facilities than just a magnificent IPF. There are other things such as the football stadium, weight and conditioning facilities, academic facilities, etc. How do all the SEC schools measure up to each other when all their football-related facilities are compared? Let's take a written tour of each school.


Stadium - Bryant-Denny Stadium has a current seating capacity of 83,818 including 85 skyboxes (18 with 24-seat capacity, 63 with 16-seat capacity) and a large video scoreboard in the south end zone. A new north end zone expansion will expand the seating to 91,000+ as well as add rows of new skyboxes.

Football Buildings - The Alabama Football Building houses a new 20,000 square-foot strength and conditioning center, new coaches' offices, a player's lounge, recruiting room, team meeting rooms, a brand new locker room and a modern rehab center. The Paul W. Bryant Hall will house a dining facility for student-athletes and a new dormitory, to be shared by underclassmen football players and students from the School of Engineering.

Practice Fields - Five full 100-yard outdoor practice football fields.

Indoor Practice Facility - The Hank Crisp Indoor Facility houses a 110-yard indoor football practice field.

Academic Center - The Paul W. Bryant Hall will house the academic center for Alabama's athletes when the current renovation is completed.


Stadium - Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, with the most recent expansion, now seats 72,000. Razorback Stadium also includes 132 skyboxes and 8,900 club level seats. A 30x107-foot SMARTVISION LED video screen is in the north end zone. Arkansas also plays many of its games at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

Football Buildings - The locker room, training room, team meeting rooms, players' lounge, coaches and administrative offices and the Jerry Jones and Jim Lindsey Hall of Champions are located in the Broyles Athletic Center just beyond the north end zone of the stadium. The weight room building is located next to the Walker Pavilion. No size was given on either the official Arkansas website or the media guide. I'm guessing its in the 10,000 to 12,000 square-foot range.

Practice Fields - I'm not sure how many practice fields Arkansas has. Normally, an SEC school has between 2 and 5.

Indoor Practice Facility - Walker Pavilion is a 76,000 square-foot building that includes a 120-yard indoor football practice field.

Academic Center - The Arkansas academic center is the 15,000 square-foot Bob and Marilyn Bogle Academic Center, which is located in the football stadium.


Stadium - Jordan-Hare Stadium has a capacity of 86,063. Although it has skyboxes in it, I don't know the actual number.

Football Buildings - The $7.3 million, 88,000 square-foot Auburn Athletic Complex houses the Auburn football coaches' offices, locker rooms, equipment room, training room, meeting rooms as well as other athletic administration offices and a museum. Auburn also shares a $3.5 million, 6,288 square-foot Strength and Rehabilitation Center with the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center physicians and a research institute directed by Dr. James Andrews. The $2.7 million James T. Tatum Strength and Conditioning Center houses the Auburn weight room and is 14,000+ square-foot in size.

Practice Fields - Three outdoor football practice fields, including one that has artificial surface on it.

Indoor Practice Facility - The John H. Watson Fieldhouse houses a 40-yard indoor practice field. It is 155' by 210' in size.

Academic Center - The 32,434 square-foot Student-Athlete Development Center is located on the top two floors of the Tatum Strength and Conditioning Center.


Stadium - Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field has a seating capacity of 88,548 with 74 skyboxes and a video scoreboard.

Football Buildings - The Ben Hill Griffin Training Complex. located in the stadium, is a 51,000 square-foot building that houses the coaches' offices, locker room areas, meeting rooms, players' lounge, strength and conditioning areas (11,000 square feet), medical and training staff and equipment rooms. Florida student-athletes are housed either in the Lake Alice Resident Building or the Schnell Field Student Housing Area. Both provide apartment style living with two bedroom suites with bath.

Practice Fields - Two 120-yard practice fields.

Indoor Practice Facility - Florida has no indoor practice football field facility.

Academic Center - The $4.1 million Academic Achievement Center is a three-story, 31,823 square-foot building.


Stadium - Sanford Stadium has a seating capacity of 92,746. Included in the capacity numbers are 50 sky suites.

Football Buildings - The $12 million, four-story Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall is an 85,000 square-foot complex that houses the players' lockers rooms, an expanded 8,000 square-foot weight room, sports medicine facility, equipment room, racquet ball court, meeting rooms for each position, players lounge, coaches' office, conference rooms and the Larry Munson Trophy Room. The administrative offices of the Georgia Athletic Association and the Georgia Bulldog Hall of Fame are also located in this building.

Practice Fields - Four full length practice fields - two of which are covered with the "field turf" surface - are adjacent to the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall building.

Indoor Practice Facility - Georgia has no indoor practice football field facility.

Academic Center - The $7 million Rankin M. Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center is a 30,000 square-foot building that is the academic center for Georgia's student-athletes.


Stadium - Commonwealth Stadium has a seating capacity of 67,606, which includes 40 suites located in the end zones. It also has two video boards, one in each end zone.

Football Buildings - The $5.7 million, 48,000 square-foot E.J. Nutter Training Facility, which is across the street from Commonwealth Stadium, houses the players' locker room, a 9,000 square-foot weight room, 11 meeting rooms, equipment and training rooms and staff and player lounges. In 2002, the $1.6+ million Paul Orberson Football Office Complex was added to the E.J. Nutter Training Facility. In the fall of 2005, the 11,500 square-foot Multi-Purpose Recruiting Room will be completed at a cost of approximately $4 million. The room will be used to entertain recruits for all of Kentucky's sports as well as used for many other sports related events.

Practice Fields - Kentucky has either two or three outdoor practice fields.

Indoor Practice Facility - The $8.5 million, 132,000 square-foot Nutter Field House includes a full length indoor practice football field.

Academic Center - The $2.4 million, 20,000 square-foot Ohio Casualty Center for Academic and Tutorial Services facility is the academic center for Kentucky's student-athletes.


Stadium - Tiger Stadium has a seating capacity of 91,600 seats. With the recent expansion, 70 skyboxes were added. No club level seating was listed on either the official website or the media guide. LSU is currently working on a $60 million dollar expansion to the stadium. No definitive seating increase is listed on either the website or media guide.

Football Buildings - LSU Football Operations Building, which will include football offices, a locker room, a training room, an equipment room and a video operations center, will be completed in the fall of 2005 at a cost of $15 million. LSU has a locker room, strength and conditioning room and players' lounge in Tiger Stadium. Adjacent to Tiger Stadium is the Bill Lawton Squad Room, a building that has a player meeting room that will seat 140 athletes as well as nine additional rooms that are used for individual position meetings and a Hall of Champions room that displays both the individual and team accomplishments of the LSU football program. The 23,000 square-foot Dr. Martin J. Broussard Center for Athletic Training is the largest of its kind if collegiate athletics.

Practice Fields - The Charles McClendon Football Practice Facility has four lighted full-length football practice fields and one-full length indoor field.

Indoor Practice Facility - See practice fields.

Academic Center - The LSU academic center is the $15 million, 54,000 square-foot Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes.


Stadium - Vaught-Hemingway Stadium/Hollingsworth Field has a seating capacity of 60,580. Although I don't know the exact number of skyboxes in the stadium, it looks like 40 (30 small, 10 large) were added with the recent expansion. Total club level seats are not provided on either the Ole Miss website or in their media guide.

Football Buildings - The $2.5 million Michael S. Starnes Athletic Training Center, which stands just north of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, houses a training room, locker room, coaches dressing room, equipment room, laundry area, seven meeting rooms and a recruitment center. The top floor contains another meeting room and a large theater-style team meeting room. Connected to the east end of the center is a 10,000 square-foot weight room.

Practice Fields - No definite number of practice fields listed. All other SEC schools appear to have between 2 to 5 fields.

Indoor Practice Facility - Ole Miss just completed the building of a new $18 to $20 million, 150,000 square-foot indoor facility that houses staff offices, a players' lounge, banquet hall, training area, locker room, full-size 100-yard indoor football practice field, team meeting room and position meeting rooms.

Academic Center - Ole Miss doesn't list a dedicated academic center on its website or in its media guide.


Stadium - Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field has a seating capacity of 55,082 after a recent expansion. The expansion also included 50 skyboxes and 1,700 club level seats.

Football Buildings - The $5 million, Bryan Athletic Administration Building houses the football offices on the second floor. The south end zone of the football stadium includes the Turman Fieldhouse, which has a gameday locker room and a recruiting lounge. The new Palmeiro Center, a $3.8 million, 68,000 square-foot, air-conditioned and heated facility, which will be located just west of Dudy Noble Field, Polk-DeMent Stadium, will serve as an indoor practice area for both baseball and football once it is completed in the spring of 2005. The 68,000 square foot floor area will accommodate a complete baseball infield within the context of a full football playing field.

Practice Fields - MSU, just west of the Shira Fieldhouse Complex, has three full-length, lighted practice fields, one of which is an artificial surface field.

Indoor Practice Facility - The Shira Fieldhouse Complex includes a locker room, a 8,000 to 9,000 square foot weight room, a 50-yard indoor football field, training room, equipment room, team meeting room and position meeting rooms. MSU is in the middle of a $5.8 million, 45,000 square-foot, two-story expansion to Shira Fieldhouse that will include a football strength and conditioning area, a players' lounge, locker room, training room, and an equipment room.

Academic Center - MSU has no dedicated academic center listed on its website or media guide.

SOUTH CAROLINA (Their official site and media guide were very, very limited in the amount of information that they provided):

Stadium - Williams-Bryce Stadium has a seating capacity of 80,250. The official South Carolina website, although it mentions club level seats and skyboxes, does not have a count on either. Neither does their media guide.

Football Buildings - A new two-story structure in the south end zone of Williams-Bryce Stadium will feature a 15,000 square-foot weight training facility, a 60-meter track and agility room, a 15,000 square-foot meeting space, position rooms, a players' lounge and a recruiting area.

Practice Fields - South Carolina has between 2 and 4 practice fields.

Indoor Practice Facility - The South Carolina IPF has a 60-yard practice football field in it.

Academic Center - No academic center was listed on either the website or media guide.


Stadium - Neyland Stadium, Shields-Watkins Field seats 104,079. It has 120 executive suites. A video scoreboard is located in the end zone.

Football Buildings - The $11 million, 120,000 square-foot Neyland-Thompson Sports Center houses the 12,000 square-foot Percy Strength Facility, the 14,000 square-foot Kerin Training Room, a 70-yard practice football field, locker room, equipment room, the Tennessee Football Hall of Fame Exhibit Museum, coaches' offices, conference rooms, a team auditorium, individual position meeting rooms and a recruiting lounge. Construction is underway on the four-story Toby and Brenda McKenzie Athletics Administration Building which will adjoin the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. The project will expand the Vols' indoor football field to a full 120 yards, provide additional offices and provide a new entrance to the athletics program.

Practice Fields - The number of outdoor practice fields used by Tennessee was not listed in either the media guide or on the official website.

Indoor Practice Facility - See football buildings.

Academic Center - The two-story Thornton Athletics Student Life Center is the academic center for Tennessee's student-athletes.


Stadium - Vanderbilt Stadium has a seating capacity of 39,790. A video scoreboard is located in the end zone.

Football Buildings - The McGugin Center, directly across from the football stadium, houses the athletic department offices. The $2.5 million Rich Practice Complex includes two football practice fields (one natural grass and one artificial surface) and a weight room. The A. Brant "Pinky" Lipscomb Athletic Training Room is approximately 4,300 square feet and is located in the McGugin Center. The $1 million Football Weight Room, located next to the football locker rooms and the Rich Practice Complex, is 8,000 square feet.

Practice Practice Fields - See football buildings.

Indoor Facility - None.

Academic Center - The Stratton-Foster Academic Center is located in the McGugin Center.

While I'll let each one of you decide who ranks where, I'll go ahead and give my guesses.

It appears that LSU slightly leads Tennessee due to their current $60 million stadium improvement, the new training facility and their magnificant academic center. Georgia and Alabama are next, followed by Auburn and Florida. Arkansas is next, although they could easily be grouped with the previous two due to the features of their stadium. Kentucky follows Arkansas due to their academic center and Recruiting Room. Although I have Ole Miss next, they are extremely close to Kentucky and Arkansas. The reason I put them behind Arkansas and Kentucky is because of their stadium size and no academic center. South Carolina and Mississippi State are neck and neck with each having an advantage over the other. While South Carolina has the better stadium, Mississippi State has an advantage due to the Palmeiro Center. Not surprisedly, Vanderbilt brings up the rear.

The bottom line is, other than Vanderbilt, all of the SEC programs have very high quality football facilities that would compete with almost all of the other colleges in the nation.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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