The University Athletic Association took the next step in a $130-million facilities upgrade Friday, announcing details for the new stand alone football facility, a new baseball stadium and significant renovations to the softball stadium.
The announcement from the athletic department came after the University of Florida Board of Trustees approved a bond resolution for $50 million for Phase II of UAA’s Facilities Master Plan.
The Board of Governors still has to approve the bond resolution at the end of June.
“We want to invest wisely in our infrastructure to enhance our student-athlete and fan experiences,” UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said. “And we want to make sure that we are making the best long-term decisions to create championship experiences with integrity for all of those that touch our programs. Our athletic department is consistently among the top five in the nation, and it is our intent that all three of these facilities mirror that.”
The stand alone football facility will be constructed on the site of the current baseball stadium (McKethan Stadium) at a cost of $65 million. Construction is expected to begin in late 2019 or early 2020, with a goal of completion in 2021.
The facility will be located right next to the practice field and indoor practice facility and will include meeting rooms, locker rooms, strength and conditioning areas, training rooms and coaches’ offices.
Architects and engineers for the project are HKO.
In UF’s original plan, the stand alone football facility was to be built west of the practice field and be a three-story structure, while the baseball stadium was going to be renovated.
After further study, the decision was made to build a new baseball stadium and put the football facility where the baseball stadium is now located, giving it much more space and avoiding making it a three-story structure.
“We are excited to know that our national championship softball and baseball teams are getting upgrades for their respective facilities and fans will have a great experience in their new stadiums,” UF football coach Dan Mullen said. “I’m also thankful for the deliberative and strategic approach we are taking in building our football training complex. We will build the top facility for the University of Florida football program with the number one emphasis on doing what is best for the development of our players.”
The new baseball stadium is going to be built on 13.63 acres of land previously occupied by UF/IFAS on Hull Road across from the softball stadium and the lacrosse stadium. The estimated $50 million project is scheduled to begin in the fall of this year. The goal is to have the stadium completed before the start of the 2020 season.
Overall capacity of the stadium will be 10,000, with permanent chairbacks increasing from 2,408 to 5,000. Premium seating and non-traditional seating options also will be available.
At the new location, homeplate will face northeast, with the sun behind the stadium.
The stadium will feature a 360-degree open concourse and seating, with multiple sections shaded from the sun.
The project also includes locker rooms, a players’ lounge, batting cages, an adjacent practice field, coaches’ offices and state of the art video board and sound system.
Architects for the project are Populous and Walker Architects, who designed Yankee Stadium.
“We are really excited about this project. Once it is completed, our student-athletes and staff will have first-class facilities that rival any program in the country,” UF baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “In addition, the new stadium will be much more suited to provide an outstanding experience for our fans. The administration has some unique ideas to ensure that the fan experience will be like nowhere else.”
As part of the project, UAA will be contributing $3 million to IFAS to benefit College of Agricultural and Life Science students.
The first project to be addressed in Phase II is Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium, which will be undergoing an $11 million renovation starting this summer. Work is expected to be completed before the start of the 2019 season.
The project includes a new, elevated press box, increasing field seating — all chairback — from 1,431 to about 2,280 and modern student-athlete and staff amenities, including locker room and sports medicine.
UAA announced that it has identified funding for $73 million of the $130 million for Phase II. The remaining funding will come from UF boosters and other donors.
Phase I of the Facilities Master Plan was completed over the past 18 months with the renovation of the O’Connell Center, construction of the football indoor practice facility and the completion of the Hawkins Center at Farrior Hall.
Upgrades to The Swamp will be part of Phase III of the Master Plan, which will begin after the completion of Phase II.
The overall cost for Phase I was $108.5 million.