Changes will be made to the west end zone at Sanford Stadium.
Athletics director Greg McGarity asked for and received approval for funding from the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors to construct a recruiting room next to a new locker room on the west side of the stadium.
The amount of money McGarity said the final cost isn’t expected to exceed $63 million with construction expected to be ongoing through the 2017 season. It is estimated that the finished project will be done by the beginning of the 2018 season. McGarity asked for $10 million to come out of the athletic association’s reserve fund. That leaves $53 million to come from fund-raising efforts.
McGarity asked for a line of credit help assist with the project so that UGA could pay for the construction up front. During a period of two or three years, the $53 million raised in donations would go toward paying off the credit.
McGarity showed the board a presentation showing renderings and designs detailing the proposal. It will be a two story building, including a 5,400 square-foot locker room on the first floor. The recruiting room would be on the second floor, which could hold up to 500 people and be 10,574 square feet. The total size for the entire west end zone construction is expected to be about 121,000 square feet. To make room, the Georgia scoreboard on the west end zone will move back toward the bridge on Sanford Drive by about 30 feet.
As for the bridge, the view into the stadium will remain the same, McGarity said. There will also be an entrance added from the bridge into the stadium.
Georgia’s scoreboard will be expected to increase in size with a new one being installed for the first time since 2011. Fourteen more seats will be added to the west zone seating area, with McGarity saying there will be more opportunities to seat people via the American Disabilities Act. There won’t be a change in the number of student seats but some may be moved as a result of this project.
Previously, Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart said the locker rooms his team dressed out in last season were the same he dressed out in when he was a player.
This has been a project Georgia has discussed for some time. Last spring, the board discussed "major enhancements" to be made to the west end zone. During a fall board meeting in September, Georgia received $1 million to begin an exploratory study on any west end zone construction.
While this is something Smart, who was present for the board meeting, has wanted, it was also something proposed under previous head coach Mark Richt’s tenure.
The first time this idea was brought up in front of the athletics association board on was May 27, 2015. Other improvements to be made at Sanford Stadium will be to its public restrooms, concessions and other structures near the west end zone construction site.
This is the first major construction project Georgia has approved since the indoor practice facility, which the football team has been able to use at least in some capacity since December.
The last upgrade made to Sanford Stadium came in 2010 to the Reed Plaza, located at the north side stadium concourse. The last major amount of money spent on a Sanford Stadium project was in 2004, when 27 SkySuites were constructed at a cost of $8 million.
During the athletic association’s board meeting, which preceded a dedication ceremony to the university’s indoor practice facility, McGarity said that through the Magill Society, 475 donations were made that totaled more than $36 million for the indoor building’s construction. The indoor facility was estimated to cost $30.2 million at the time of groundbreaking with $15 million originally slated to come out of the athletic association’s reserve fund.
With Georgia raising almost $6 million more than the total cost of the indoor practice facility, UGA president Jere Morehead said that money can jumpstart the funding for the west end zone project.