UGA approves plans for ‘transformational’ indoor facility
ATHENS — Georgia’s new indoor facility is a go, and it also has an official price tag, along with a plan on how to pay for it.
The UGA athletic board unanimously approved, via teleconference on Monday, a plan presented by athletics director Greg McGarity to proceed with the building once the coming football season is over. It will be located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre complex, on the current site of the team’s outdoor grass fields.
The team’s current, smaller facility, which was built less than a decade ago, will be demolished to make room for the new facility.
The board approved a cost of $30.2 million for the project, half drawn from the athletics department’s reserve fund, and the other half via fundraising.
“Getting the $15 million raised as quickly as possible would be optimal,” UGA president Jere Morehead said on the call.
The Board of Regents, which oversees all state universities, still must formally approve the project in a few weeks. But UGA can now start a full-fledged fundraising campaign now that the project has been formally green-lighted.
McGarity said there were already some “verbal pledges” for the project. Ideally the facility would be named for someone who provided a large donation.
“That’d be very nice,” McGarity said. “That is a priority.”
In fact, McGarity added, they would hope to raise even more than $15.1 million, as there are other facility projects for other sports the school hopes to build. Any extra money from the football facility fundraising could then be put toward those other projects.
No timetable was given by McGarity, but the project is not expected to be done in time for the 2016 season. The goal is to “absolutely” have a groundbreaking date this December, McGarity said, with the facility ready to use sometime in 2017, hopefully early on.
In the meantime, the football team will have to practice elsewhere for probably all of next year. The location for those practices hasn’t been determined.
But coach Mark Richt, who has been angling for the facility since he was hired in 2001, is happy it’s finally coming.
“I know he is excited for this day to come,” McGarity said. “He is chomping at the bit to send renderings to prospects and team members and the coaching staff. And now we’ve got that done.”
McGarity said he felt confidence that the price tag would stay at $30.2 million, as long as UGA itself doesn’t make major design changes during the process.
“It’s like building a home, the fewer change orders the better,” he said. “So if we can do a good job on the front end and pay close attention on the front end, we fully anticipate being in budget, unless there’s an unforeseen circumstance out there that’s beyond our control.”
The facility will be a joint project between two groups: Collins Cooper Carusi, based in Atlanta, and RATIO, which has done similar facilities for South Carolina, Louisville, Oregon and many other programs.
Georgia’s facility will be 80 yards wide, 140 yards long, 65 feet high inside and 75 feet high outside. Renderings were not immediately available to the media, but were passed out to board members prior to Monday’s meeting.
“This building will be a 50-to-100 year building that will have major construction as far as the total project here,” McGarity said, adding there will be a “tremendous amount of detail (toward the facility) due to its location.”
It will not just be a football building: There will be a track, batting cages for baseball and softball, and other track.
“All our programs in essence would be able to utilize this building for offseason conditioning,” McGarity said. “All of our sports will be impacted by this. I do think this will be a transformational facility for our entire program, once we finish this as soon as possible.”
Once this football season ends, site condition planning will begin, which will include digging down 12 feet on the location of the future facility. McGarity estimated that process would take about 100 days, at which point they would proceed to the next part of the plan.
“(We’re) certainly not taking any shortcuts because this building will be here a long, long time, and we want to make sure we get this right,” McGarity said.