Gators’ Indoor Practice Facility to be ready by early September

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What was that again about Florida having inferior facilities, Muschamp?

The University announced plans to build a full sized, 120 yard long indoor practice facility with a surface of synthetic turf, and expect it to be ready by early September- right around the time the 2015 season will kick off. Originally, Florida planned to build a smaller (70 yards, roughly half a field) facility, but that idea was soon dismissed. As Jameis Winston would say, if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it big. If UF is going to spend the money for an IPF, might as well spend all you need to in order to do it right. In this case, that’s around $15 million.

The IPF will be built on what is currently the Sanders Practice Field, and the construction will take up so much space that the baseball stadium- McKethan Stadium- will require a whole new entrance. It will go alongside the 120 and 70 yard long outdoor practice fields the Gators have.

In documents drawn up in October to begin the procedure, the UAA listed the following two reasons as to why they felt it was necessary to build an IPF:

-“Allow practice to continue without interruption of inclement weather. At times, the team needs to seek cover during these events. This disrupts the continuity of the team’s training session.”

-“Compete with peers to recruit quality student athletes. The facility’s lack of space for indoor training has set the University’s program behind the majority of their peers within the SEC conference and the NCAA. This, in turn, puts the football program at a disadvantage in recruiting top student athletes.”

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(Images courtesy of Davis Architects via Gatorzone.com)

Personally, I think it’s about damn time Florida got an IPF. Florida has around 30 practices altered in some way by weather (practice must stop when lightning is within eight miles). Practicing indoors eliminates the chances of weather related injuries, between slipping on a wet field, heat exhaustion, and even freak things like lightning strikes. Through the years, dozens of Florida players have torn their ACLs on the beat up practice field, the most recent of which were Andre Debose and Matt Rolin. Of course, an IPF doesn’t guarantee players won’t tear their ACLs, but it does at least reduce those chances.

Having awesome new facilities doesn’t hurt in recruiting, either. In a way, Will Muschamp was right when he called out UF for having subpar facilities. Too bad Muschamp wasn’t good enough to stay at UF long enough to see them get built. No longer does Muschamp or any other rival coach have that to use against Florida in recruiting, and conversely, Florida can now use their up to par facilities to help themselves in recruiting.

On the other hand, I do understand why it took so long. Florida fosters three very successful athletic programs (football, basketball and baseball) that make the big money, and a bunch of others (soccer, lacrosse, softball, track, etc.) that make considerably less money but are very successful. Hence the popular twitter hashtag #EverythingSchool. It’s not so easy for Jeremy Foley to simply spend $15 million of his athletic budget on one sport, even if that one sport is the engine of the UF athletic program. He also has to keep his basketball facilities up to par, which is why he ordered the $45 million overhaul on the O’Dome at the conclusion of this (dreadful) season.

But it’s not like Foley totally neglects the football program financially. He has spent lots of money on the football program in other ways. Since 2008, Foley ordered the installation of the statues of the three Heisman winners outside the stadium, new video screens inside the stadium and the Heavener Football Complex- all of which help in recruiting.

Here’s hoping that the IPF will actually make the differences the UAA says they want it to.

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