ATHENS ― Two years after breaking ground on construction and exactly one year after dedicating it, Georgia’s indoor practice facility finally will have a name. From now on, the Bulldogs will practice inside the William & Porter Payne Indoor Athletic Facility.
Or as players will surely come to call it, The House of Payne.
Billy Payne recently retired as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters golf tournament each year. (UGA/courtesy)
The Georgia Board of Regents on Tuesday approved naming the building after Billy Payne, as he is more commonly known, people with knowledge of the process confirmed. His full name is William Porter Payne, but the facility is also to carry the name of his father, Porter, who like Billy Payne is a Georgia football letterman.
Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity acknowledged that an announcement regarding naming of the building is expected from UGA on Tuesday, but declined further comment, citing that “we need to let the process run its course.”
UPDATE: UGA sent out a news release at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday confirming the Regents’ approval of the naming rights and specifying that the official name will be the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility.
A “substantial gift” generally is required by the regents for naming rights to a state building. The UGA Athletic Association reported that 100 percent of the funds for $30.2 million building were privately raised. The building was dedicated on Feb. 14, 2017, but has been in use since January of last year.
UPDATE: UGA confirmed that the naming rights were the result “gifts totaling $10 million secured from friends of Billy and Porter Payne.”
Payne is the recently retired chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the man most responsible for bringing the Summer Olympic Games to Atlanta in 1996 as president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. He is an Athens native and a second-generation Georgia football letterman who played for Vince Dooley from 1965-68 and holds undergraduate and law degrees from the university.
As chairman of Augusta National from 2006-17, Payne is credited with opening membership to women and for his contributions to golf, such as including more international players in the Masters field and providing spectator access for children.
Payne also is a chairman and a founding member of Centennial Holding Co., an Atlanta-based real estate investment company that claims more than $1 billion in assets on its website.
Payne started at tight end for Georgia on its 1966 SEC championship team before switching to defense. He started at defensive end alongside Bill Stanfill on the Bulldogs’ 1968 SEC championship squad.
Porter Payne also won two SEC championships as an all-conference lineman in the late 1940s. He lettered for the Bulldogs from 1946-49.