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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Touring the New Football Facilities (Part 1)

If you're in Athens and you've taken a spin past the Butts-Mehre building in recent months, you've probably been amazed at the progress being made on the expansion to the school's football facilities. I have been, too.

But this week, I was lucky enough to not just get a view from the outside, but also a full tour of everything going on inside. Our tour guide was Brian Wood, the on-site owner's rep for Brasfield & Gorrie General Contractors, and he was kind enough to give us the details on virtually every new addition going into the project.

Later this week, we'll have a full video tour and I'll have a feature story in the paper on the project's progress and what it means for Georgia. In the meantime, check out a bunch of great photos from our visit.


The most obvious addition from the exterior is what will amount to Georgia's version of an indoor practice facility. The whole area will give coaches about half a field's worth of space to do walk-throughs and will have a large curtain that can be pulled to split the field down the middle for offensive and defensive practices. The exterior walls will allow significant natural light into the room, which will be furnished with artificial turf and can also serve as a multi-purpose room for serving meals and holding meetings.

Here's the view from inside the building. A glass partition will eventually split the weight room (where we're standing for the photo) and the practice facility.

And here's the view from outside. The practice facility will face the outdoor practice fields on the back of the Butts-Mehre Building.
The opposite side of this section of the building is what is visible from Pinecrest Ave., beyond the (currently unusable) parking lot at Butts-Mehre. The exterior -- which is a little tough to see -- is covered with a special paneling made in Italy that our tour guide tells us has been used just once or twice on any other buildings in the country. What's it's use? OK, that remained a mystery.

Part of the 70,000 square feet of additional space in the new building is going to be used as new meeting rooms. In the old building, each position had a small meeting room, then there was one large team meeting room.

In the new design, there will be seven 15-person meeting rooms for individual position meetings, a separate offensive and defensive team meeting room, and then the full team meeting room has will be expanded from 120 seats to 156.

Here's a shot of the full team meeting room. This is simply renovations on the original space used for team meetings -- but opened up a bit. In the old meeting room, plaques signifying each Georgia bowl appearance used to hang on the rear wall. The one for the 1974 Tangerine Bowl inexplicably had a picture of a pair of crutches as the bowl's logo. This has always perplexed me, and I hope they give that plaque more context in the new construction.

And here's one of the space that will be used for the individual meeting rooms...

Here's what will be the new players' lounge. This is a completely new space that will be filled with brand new computers, large flat-screen TV, video game consoles and various other amenities for the athletes to relax or do a bit of work before and after practice. It will be adjacent to the locker room.

As for the locker rooms, the current set-up remains the same and is still being used by the players now. It was shut down for a few weeks while the carpet was replaced, but other than that it remains unchanged.

There will be a small addition to the lockers and showers, however, and our tour guide, Brian, shows us those here...

The rest of the first floor -- the area to the right of the indoor practice room -- is taken up by the weight room and training rooms. Butts-Mehre's old weight room was small and a bit outdated. Not so in the new facility.

While construction is ongoing, however, players have been forced to the old gym in the Coliseum, a room they affectionately refer to as "The Dungeon." You can see why...

The new weight room will be bordered by a glass exterior that allows natural light inside -- something players definitely aren't getting in "The Dungeon" -- and offers a view of both the outdoor and indoor practice fields. Inside, it will have entirely new workout equipment and will be more than double the size of the old weight room -- up to 12,000 square feet.

Here's the view from the exterior. It sits below the older part of the Butts-Mehre building. It's a bit tough to see due to some construction equipment blocking our view.

And here's the view from the inside -- with the bay windows opening up a view to the outdoor practice fields that are now home to construction equipment.

Adjacent to the weight room is a much larger training facility that will house state-of-the-art equipment throughout. Currently, the training staff is working in "The Dungeon"...

...and in the largest of these trailers.

Many of the rest of the Butts-Mehre staff have been relegated to the trailers, too, while construction remains ongoing. The estimated move-in date for the new facility won't be until mid-January.

Anyway, here's where the new training facilities will be. Notice, too, the slimming effect bright yellow safety vests have on me. (Hint: I'm the one looking like I'm saying something important.)

One of the many interesting additions to the training facilities will be two pools for the players. You can see there here, although they're covered with plywood. One will be the "hot" pool and one the "cold" pool. In both pools, treadmills have been installed at the bottom for players run on -- with one of the treadmills on a platform that can be raised or lowered to adjust for the height of the athlete. Cool, huh?

When the first floor was completed, construction workers held a "topping out" party. They all signed this wall, and members of the staff at Butts-Mehre along with other university personnel had a nice little shindig to celebrate. Mark Richt even gave a speech.

OK, that wraps up the first part of our tour. Check back later this afternoon to see images from the second floor and the big-picture layout at the new facility.

And, as always, many, many, many thanks to Mr. Brandon Spoon for snapping the photos. Be sure to check out his blog HERE and tell him how much you appreciate all his hard work!

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