The Florida Gators may build an indoor practice facility for the football team after all.
Despite athletic director Jeremy Foley stating repeatedly that an indoor practice facility was not a priority for the program, the Gators have submitted to the Florida Department of State a notice of bid/request for proposal requiring “design/build services” for “Project UAA-35, Indoor Football Practice Facility (Main Campus).”
University of Florida’s Athletics Association (UAA) is considering the possibilities of providing an indoor practice field for the football program on its current practice site located immediately north of McKethan (baseball) Stadium on the University of Florida campus. Also, a new storage building will be built at the NE corner of the football practice field to provide space for a satellite athletic training space, hydration station, toilet, and field maintenance equipment storage.
The total project budget is $11,900,000.00 including site improvements, underground utilities, fees, surveys & tests, total building comissioning, furnishings & equipment, and contingencies.
According to Florida spokesman Steve McClain, who sent a statement to The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu, there are no plans currently on the horizon for the facility.
“We are looking at conceptual models and locations in the event that we ever decided to build one,” he said. “If we choose at some point to pursue this, we will follow campus construction policies and procedures through the office of Planning, Design and Construction.”
Florida is one of five Southeastern Conference schools without a full indoor practice facility; the other four – Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State and South Carolina – are either in the process of building one or have plans approved to do so. (UGA and USC, respectively, currently have 30- and 50-yard mini-indoor facilities.)
The $11.9 million estimated price tag for the Gators’ potential facility is nothing to thumb one’s nose at but may seem small compared to the Commodores’ $31 million project or Mississippi State’s $25 million facility. Unlike those schools, Florida has already built out much of its football facility and appears to simply be adding an indoor practice space with a few additional accouterments.
The Gators, which recently spent $450,000 to re-sod their outdoor practice fields, miss a handful of practices each year (in-season and offseason combined) due to weather, primarily lightning and heavy rain. Florida also occasionally rearranges its practice schedule due to weather and extreme heat.
“Where the indoor practice facility is going to help you is the heat. When you’re able to, when it’s really hot, get guys out of the heat so you don’t lose anybody to dehydration. That’s where that can help you a little bit,” head coach Will Muschamp said during a speaking engagement in May 2012. “But at the end of the day, since 1996, we’ve got three crystal balls sitting in my office and we don’t have an indoor practice facility. I don’t think it’s a very pressing need at this point, in my opinion. I think we do have some other things that are more important that we need to get accomplished.”
First up for the Gators is a complete $45 million renovation to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, which is set to commence following the 2014-15 basketball season and be completed in December 2015. Florida will also be heavily renovating its Office of Student Life, spending $1.75 million to enhance the facility.
OnlyGators.com requested verification of the document but did not receive a reply from the University Athletic Association.
Hat tip to a message board poster 05LakelandGator on GatorCountry.com for finding the notice of bid/request for proposal.