The University Athletic Association announced plans on Wednesday to build an indoor football practice facility.
Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said in a press release the facility has been talked about internally for some time.
“We have always been able to utilize The O’Connell Center as an indoor option for the football team, but with the renovation starting this Spring, it will no longer be available,” Foley said.
Every team in the Southeastern Conference currently has an indoor practice facility or plans to build one. The project is expected to be completed by September 2015 and will bring the Gators up to speed while addressing weather-related practice issues, Scott Carter, UAA senior writer, said.
Dan Apple, assistant communications director, said 30 practices were affected by weather during the 2014 season.
“It provides us an opportunity to practice in inclement weather, which in the past we’ve had to either utilize the O’Connell Center or Florida Gym or adjust practice times or cancelled practices,” Apple said.
Chip Howard, Florida’s executive associate athletic director for internal affairs, worked closely on the plans with the Birmingham project designers, Davis Architects, and managers, Brasfield & Gorrie General Contractors, Carter said.
Ground is expected to be broken this week on the facility, which will be built over the easternmost Sanders Football Practice Field. Carter said the new building will feature overhead roll-up doors on the east and west sides to allow for ventilation and easy access for the team to utilize the other existing fields–a 120-yard natural grass field and a 70-yard synthetic grass field, which will remain the same.
The plans will also redesign the entrance to the baseball stadium, football practice facility and adjoining plaza between the facilities, Carter said.
Funding for the $15 million project came from private gifts and capital financing, said Apple. Most of the construction will not take place during peak times and should not affect traffic in the area.