Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley: ‘We’re not getting into an arms race’ with our facilities

By Adam Silverstein
November 18, 2014

While in-state rivals and Southeastern Conference foes have been making substantial, multi-million dollar upgrades to their football facilities – including adding exorbitant indoor practice facilities – over recent years, the Florida Gators have stood firm that their amenities are above or on par with any team in the nation.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley took that stance again on Monday while addressing whether he agrees with some external murmuring that Florida’s facilities are no longer up to the program’s lofty standards.

“I wear orange and blue goggles a lot, and I’m certainly willing to have wide-open eyes, but I don’t agree with the assessment that our facilities have fallen behind,” explained Foley. “We judge our facilities based on [whether] they help our programs be successful. Do they make an impact on their ability to be successful? Whether that’s a weight room for football or a gymnastics practice studio, whatever have you.”

It’s not that the Gators have been lacking in making upgrades to their stadiums, locker rooms, weight rooms or multiple sport offices. Rather, Florida has been ahead of the curve in boosting its stadiums and support structures, especially for the football program.


In 2003, while most schools were still offering the norm as far as stadium seating was concerned, the Gators invested $52 million to add luxury boxes, expand and enhance the press box, renovate the Bull Gator Deck and add numerous suites. One year later, Florida spent $2 million to add high-resolution video boards well before other schools even considered doing so.

Throughout 2007-08, the Gators approved a $28 million project that completely renovated the football facility, strength and conditioning room and football offices. The project also included the construction of the 100 percent privately-funded Heavener Football Complex, which showcases the program’s national titles, Heisman Trophies and all the accomplishments of its players with beautiful pictures and video.

The video boards installed just five years earlier were replaced with $5.6 million screens in 2009. Florida then funded the nearly-$600,000 construction and installation of Heisman Trophy statues outside the stadium with Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow all standing on bronze.

Still, the Gators were not done and approved a full renovation of The Swamp’s west concourse, which included a number of enhancements for fans like new restrooms, wider concourses and additional concession options for an undisclosed sum.

For the basketball program, the Gators have spent $3.4 million since 2006 to improve the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, which will begin a $45 million facelift at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season. Florida has also recently built a lacrosse facility from scratch and spent $4.5 million to renovate the gymnastics team’s practice studio; the program has won back-to-back national titles since.

What the Gators do not have, most notably, is an indoor practice facility for football. Florida’s football locker rooms also do not contain waterfalls and full spas, though the athletic department did add a Gator Room with games, big-screen televisions and other entertainment for its student-athletes.

“As you look around our facilities, we’re not into bells and whistles,” said Foley. “We’re always looking to upgrade our facilities, but we’re not getting into an arms race.”

Unfortunately for Foley, the rest of the SEC – and Florida State – is doing exactly that.

So while the Gators have spent more than $90 million on the football program since 2003 and well over $50 million for their other sports, they are now being criticized for their lack of flash. Other programs, which were late to the party and not ahead of the curve like Florida, are not just catching up to UF’s facilities but now surpassing the standard created by the Gators, which were in front of the pack for nearly a decade.

That’s not to say Florida does not recognize that it needs to make additional improvements.

The Gators are considering a few indoor practice facility options with costs that could range between $4-12 million, though the project has not been approved as of press time.

Florida is currently one of five SEC 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.)

What the Gators have approved, in addition to the O’Dome expansion, is a $1.75 million renovation of its Office of Student Life that will commence next year.

“We’re putting a major, major expansion into our academic center. We’re designing that right now. I think when you bring young men and women on campus with their parents, our commitment to their academic success and their personal development as human beings is really important,” Foley said.

Florida’s facilities are not seen by Foley as an issue that affects the Gators’ success in playing games or recruiting student-athletes. “On a major scale, that’s not impacting our success at all.”

However, he does recognize that Florida may need to make a few changes or additions once he hires a new head football coach, especially if that hire has a desire to keep up with the Jonses.

“Every new coach that comes in here needs something new, that’s not going to be different,” he said. “That’s the way it works.”

15 Comments

  1. Dave Massey says:

    Definitely gotta keep up with the Jonses in order to keep up with the Jonses in recruiting.

  2. SW FL Joe says:

    Two of UF’s biggest obstacles are 1) lack of space on campus and 2) Foley will not use taxpayer money to build facilities like FSU does.

    • one says:

      Yup. I don’t blame him for the second reasoning either but I think people prefer expenses used on lacrosse and WBB on football. It’s a meathead mentality, but if they’re the ones writing the checks…

      • Ken (CA) says:

        Ever heard of Title IX? They have to do Women’s Lacrosse and WBB among other sports or they can’t have the Men’s sports that they have.

  3. panariello says:

    Jeremy, don’t go chasing waterfalls

  4. g8ter27 says:

    Need the indoor practice facility Jeremy.

  5. Steven says:

    Our facilities aren’t up to par with the other top programs. They must get better.
    Face the facts. It’s not like we don’t have the money

    Foley may be great, but he sure doesn’t seem like it at times

  6. Richard says:

    It’s time for Foley to do his job. University of Florida has the money to spend on whatever we want or need. Along with the University money, Alumni money has ALWAYS been there when needed. It’s time Foley uses whatever sources at his disposal to go out and HIRE the right coach to lead Florida back to its place of prominence in the the SEC. Forget being so cerebral and WRITE THE CHECK!

    Foley has the balls and the know how to do the deal! Do it Jeremy or it may be YOUR last chance! Football is where the money is. If you must play hard ball, PLAY IT!!!!

    • Ken (CA) says:

      UAA doesn’t take any money from the University. In fact, it has a completely separate budget and many years donates millions TO the university. Alumni pockets aren’t bottomless either, otherwise I am sure if one had stepped up and said Here Jeremy is the 15 million you need, go build your indoor facility, it would already be under construction.

      • Gatorgrad79 says:

        There are plans. I tailgate in my motor home on the grass area north of the track. We have been told we will be relocated when the plans are set. As that is a small area, may be plans to close that section of 2nd ave where it curves into University at the O’Connell parking lot and incorporate the area of the old Presidents house, currently being used just for social functions. This is a guess, but they will need more space and as someone else pointed out, space around the campus is at a premium, at least near the stadium.

  7. Rakkasan says:

    The success of a new head coach will go a long way in getting facilities upgrades. Win more games and the fans will come. With the fans the money will come.

    I do take issue with FSU passing us in facilities. Has the author taken a good look at their stadium? It’s nothing more than a trailer with a brick wall around it, and when it rains the sewer backs up. FSU will never pass UF in facilities.

  8. Steven says:

    What’s the saying?
    You are never staying the same you are either getting better or getting worse.
    By staying still and not improving we are getting worse and worse as other schools improve their facilities.

    Again the more I hear from Foley the more I wonder if he is truly committed to football like some of the other ADs are or is he more committed to having a well rounded athletic program.

    Ask yourself what you would rather have. A top football team, or a top women’s lacrosse and gymnastics team.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? Having a well rounded athletic program is not a bad thing. Sure, football drives most of the revenue to allow for the others, so you really think Foley doesn’t have his pulse on that?

      Even if what you say is true, not only are they not mutually exclusive, but you can’t have a well rounded athletic program WITHOUT football. There is little doubt Foley pays very close attention to what is going on there all the time, whether we outsiders think so or not.

  9. INGATORSWETRUST says:

    Just look at difference in recruiting for FSU with their facility. Prior to building, they showed all the kids the facility during the recruiting process and now that they have it,it is a major recruiting advantage for impressionable 17 year old recruits. I think that really swung the momentum in FSU’s favor when we were on top of the mountain under Urban. Muschamp offensive coaching staff hires only served to speed up the transition of power.

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