Indoor facility not in the cards for Richt, Georgia

Indoor facility not in the cards for Richt, Georgia

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Georgia Athletic Association’s board of directors held its annual meeting this week in St. Simons, Ga. to decide on budgets and facility projects.

The 20-yard by 60-yard turf area inside UGA's Butts-Mehre complex will have to do for now.

The 20 x 60-yard turf area inside UGA’s Butts-Mehre complex will have to do for now.

The board approved a $93.2 million budget for 2013, which will likely be the sixth-largest in the SEC. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Auburn were bigger spenders last year.

One project that wasn’t on the docket: a full-scale indoor facility. Even though Mark Richt would like it, it’s not likely to happen any time soon.

The Bulldogs currently use a 20-yard by 60-yard indoor turf field area in its Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall football complex for indoor work.

“It would be nice to have a practice facility indoor,” Richt said last month. “It would be extremely nice to have it at our complex, at our football complex. …Do we have to have it? I don’t think we have to have it, but like I said it would be nice to have it.”

Georgia completed a 53,000 square-foot expansion to the Butts-Mehre building in 2011 at a cost of nearly $40 million. That build, which included the includes the 20 x 60-yard indoor area, all but killed any chance of a full-length indoor practice facility for the foreseeable future.

If an indoor facility was going to be placed adjacent to the expanded Butts-Mehre, it would have to be built where two grass practice fields currently sit. That’s not an option, according to UGA athletic director Greg McGarity.

Richt says the building an indoor facility on another part of campus isn’t appealing, either.

“We’ve been offered the opportunity to have it over by soccer/softball in years past and I’ve not really been interested in that,” Richt told the Athens Banner-Herald. “If I’m going to have it, I really want to have it where we practice on a daily basis.

“If you start your practice outside and then the weather gets bad and you’ve got to travel by buses and everybody’s got to go on the bus and travel two or three miles down the road and then you cool down and then all of a sudden you try to heat back up. …If we’re going to do it, I’d like to do it right there at our practice facility at the Butts-Mehre building.”

Quarterback Aaron Murray got a chance work at Oklahoma’s indoor facility during a recent spring break trip. Though he said he was “probably going to get in trouble” for saying so, he admitted it would be a nice thing to have.

“It’s nice, especially when it’s cold and windy to go in there, don’t worry about anything,” Murray said.

“I think it definitely hinders us a little bit,” he added. “During the season if it’s lightning and raining or even a spring practice, once you start practice you can’t get it back. …If you had a whole field, you could go in there.”

It crossed Richt’s mind during preparation for last year’s SEC championship game, too.

“Ideally it would have been nice to have an indoor thing to practice in and crank the heat up a little bit to try get as close to what it would be in the game, but we don’t have that right now,” Richt said at the time.

Despite the griping, it’s not on the AD’s radar, at least right now.

“Indoor practice, I get it,” McGarity said. ” …That’s an investment that’s probably in the neighborhood of 20 million dollars. I’m not so sure that’s something is a wise expense at this time. It’s something that was not a priority several years ago and it’s really not a priority right now.”

If the Dawgs are able to make a few more SEC title game appearances, perhaps McGarity will see things differently.

Photo credit: UGA Athletics

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