ATHENS — The good news is construction is already well under way on Georgia’s new indoor practice facility. That’s the bad news, too.
Because of the massive construction project to build the $30 million facility, the Bulldogs’ football operation will be significantly affected not only for spring practice but into next season and beyond. As a result, Georgia will be forced to conduct its practices for the 2016 season at a temporary facility on South Milledge Avenue, several miles away from the Butts-Mehre football complex.
Of course, new Georgia coach Kirby Smart is finding out all this on the fly. His first full-time day on the job was Tuesday and he held his first news conference as the Bulldogs’ head coach was Wednesday.
“You almost have to take a step back to take two steps forward,” Smart said Wednesday. “Obviously there’s going to be some logistical issues of which I don’t even know all of them. I know it’s going to incur some problems with practice and all that. But I’m 100 percent on board with that to get the Indoor. You’re not going to hear me complain about having to travel to get that. I’m all on board on that.”
Smart is coming from Alabama, which has long utilized an indoor practice facility. The 97,000-square foot Hank Crisp Indoor Facility was renovated in 2009 and, with sophisticated extras such as an overhead camera system, is today considered one of the best in the country.
Georgia’s is expected to be even better. In fact, UGA insists while it’s the last in the SEC to build one, it will be the best in the league. Only Tennessee’s $45 million Anderson Training Facility costs more, but that building now houses the entirety of the Vols’ football operations. The Bulldogs’ building will be a separate addition to the existing football complex.
“I’m really fired up about that,” Smart said. “I’ve seen the plans for it. I think a lot of thought and mindset went into that to build it the right way. And you want to do that because once you’ve got it, it’s yours; it’s your baby and you want it to be done the right way.”
However, while its under construction, all four of Georgia’s fields will be taken out of service.
“I think it’s going to create some problems for the first season,” Smart said. “But I do think that we can overcome that and they’re willing to do it.”