ATHENS — The University of Georgia has denied multiple open records requests from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — and presumably other media outlets — to share renderings and other informational documents produced by the architectural firm that it contracted for hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure out where it could put an indoor practice facility for football.
To date, those requests have produced only a fee proposal and a 66-page boilerplate contractual agreement.
However, UGA has now posted some of the renderings created by the Collins Cooper Carusi Architects on its website and sent them out to potential donors. They are not, however, very revealing.
In a gallery posted on georgiadogs.com, the Bulldogs show the same type of building situated at six different locations “within the Lumpkin Street precinct.” Athletic Director Greg McGarity hinted at a February board meeting that the construction will require the acquisition of a piece of university property currently occupied by the Hoke Smith Annex. That’s located across Smith Street north of the lower FieldTurf Practice Fields and next to Stegeman coliseum. McGarity estimated the acquisition of that property would raise the overall cost of building the facility to about $30 million.
However, according to renderings posted on georgiadogs.com, the 140-yard-long by 80-yards-wide facility could be located on several different locations in the Lumpkin precinct. The building is shown where the Bulldogs’ upper grass fields are now, where the lower FieldTurf Fields currently are, between the upper and lower field and at the far corners of the area known as Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. In no instance is the Spec Towns Track and grandstands impacted. They have eliminated the Jack Turner Complex on South Milledge as an option.
There are no details provided as to what the inside of the facility might look like. McGarity said it would be used by Georgia’s other sports, including baseball and track. UGA’s previous plans for an indoor facility included an indoor track around the football field, which would help bring the Bulldogs’ Top 10 track and field program up to par with many of its conference rivals. Indications are that is not a priority for this project.
In the meantime, wherever Georgia decides to put it, it will have to destroy all the improvements it made only recently to the football complex. Before last season, the Bulldogs replaced two FieldTurf fields, built iron fences and new video towers and made other improvements to Woodruff Practice Fields. Those improvements cost $371,444 and came out of the 2014-15 budget.
The UGA Athletic Board last September approved $400,000 from the athletic association’s reserve fund to commission a study on building an indoor football facility. The architectural firm of Collins Cooper Carusi of Atlanta, which has handled several other projects for the athletic department, agreed to undertake that task for $330,000, plus additional fees that will come in Phase 4. Finding a suitable location for the massive building is Phase 1.
As for the athletic association’s unwillingness to be transparent about its construction plans and considerations, the McGarity addressed that in the “indoor athletic facility update” posted on its website.
“Due to the sensitivity and concern for adherence to proper protocol with regard to planning and construction on the UGA campus, every effort has been made to protect the integrity of the informational and approval process on campus, with our Athletic Board and with the Board of Regents,” McGarity wrote. “It is our intent to ‘get it right’ in every aspect of this project, and this includes a full review and approval by the appropriate parties. As this process continues to develop, we will keep our donors and supporters updated on our progress.”