ATHENS — Another long-awaited and long-sought facility project at Georgia is finally coming to fruition. And it’s going to be expensive.
The UGA athletic board on Tuesday approved an overhaul to the west end of Sanford Stadium that athletics director Greg McGarity said would “not exceed 63 million.” But the school plans on fundraising the vast majority of it.
The board approved a plan to raise $53 million from private funds, which the rest coming from the athletic association’s reserves.
The project will see Georgia’s football locker rooms, currently on the east end, be rebuilt on the west end, with a recruiting area built adjacent to it. A new plaza will be built that will end up adjacent to the current bridge, which overlooks the west side of the stadium. There will be a recruiting pavilion of about 500 seats, measuring 10,575 square feet, on top of the student section.
UGA president Jere Morehead told the board that between this project and the indoor facility that the football team will be at “a competitive advantage,” and thus looked forward to more success in the future.
“I’m fired up about that west end zone,” board member and Georgia junior tight end Jeb Blazevich told the board, though he won’t be on the team when it’s completed.
The construction process would take 17 months, McGarity told the board, which meant construction happening during the 2017 football season. But McGarity said he was “comfortable” that they would be able to manage that. The goal would be for it to be completed the summer of 2018, well before the start of that season.
An artist rendering of what the bridge will look like, adjoining the plaza to be built. (UGA)
This will be the largest facilities project for UGA in a long time, twice as much as the indoor facility, budgeted at $30.2 million, which is being dedicated Tuesday afternoon, after the board meeting. That long-debated project finally began construction just over a year ago.
“This has been under discussion for a considerable amount of time,” Morehead told the board.
Former head coach Mark Richt first publicly mentioned preference for the plan in May 2015. The board first discussed the west end zone project at last May’s meeting. Then it agreed to allocate just over $1 million for a design study at the September meeting.
Georgia’s updated reserve fund is moe than $45 million available, with $41 million of that currently invested, according to a report provided at Tuesday’s meeting.
There will be two new sets of restrooms on the west end of the stadium (two men’s and two women’s rooms.)
A few other details:
- The number of student seats is not expected to change, but some may be relocated, according to Morehead.
- The current scoreboard will move about 30 feet back towards the bridge.
- McGarity compared the area around the locker room to the Reed plaza on the north end, which was added to the stadium in 2010.
- The visiting locker rooms, still on the east end, will remain the same.
- The Dawg Walk into the stadium will stay the same, only now players won’t have to wrap up the walk by trapsing across the stadium field to the locker rooms on the east end.
McGarity told the board that the athletic association received $36 million in donations from a total of 475 donors through the Magill Society, the fundraising arm of the Georgia Bulldog Club.