GREENSBORO — Georgia’s home locker room at Sanford Stadium soon will be switching ends.
The Georgia athletic board on Thursday approved $1 million from its reserve fund for the “pre-construction and design phase” of a project that would include building a new home locker room and recruit entertainment space on the west end of the stadium underneath the Sanford Drive bridge. The Bulldogs traditionally have utilized dressing rooms underneath the East End of the stadium. The visiting teams would remain in the space alongside that.
Athletic Director Greg McGarity could not say when construction would actually begin or how much it might cost.
“It is part of a master plan exercise that has been ongoing for years,” McGarity said. “Now we want to take the next step to move forward with the planning.”
McGarity said the hope is to hire a design and build team by August and hopefully have some tentative plans by the September board meeting. It’s expected to be a major project that will encompass much of the space from the bridge to the backside of the West grandstands. No seating will be affected.
Both McGarity and UGA President Jere Morehead emphasized emphatically that no plans would be approved that would alter the view into the stadium from the bridge.
“That will never happen,” McGarity said.
When completed, the Bulldogs will still hold their “Dawg Walk” through the Tate Center parking lot and underneath the bridge. However, the players would now change into their uniforms at the stadium before the games and shower there afterward rather than changing at the Butts-Mehre Football Complex as they currently do.
The $1 million allocation was part of $9.2 million in funds the board approved from the association’s reserve fund for facility improvement projects on Thursday. Also included is a $4.7 million plan to build a new soccer stadium at the Jack Turner Family Soccer Complex and $1.8 million to go toward the first phase of a major renovation project at Stegeman Coliseum.
The initial plan for Stegeman is to “rebrand” and “repurpose” the east end of the arena and make it a mural space featuring artwork of the three teams that compete there, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and gymnastics. They will remove the championship banners and sound proofing currently there.
“We want to really energize the look and feel of the arena,” McGarity said. “… We’ve got to have some pizzazz in that building.”
That’s just Phase I of the Stegeman renovation plan. Phase II includes a center-hanging scoreboard and video boards in the middle of the arena. That would not begin until next year.