Bulldogs Beat

Morehead: Indoor facility decision coming 'soon'

ATHENS - The planning phase for Georgia's long-awaited indoor practice facility appears to be nearing an end.

UGA president Jere Morehead said Thursday that the school is "making good progress" on the project, and was hopeful there would be "something to consider very soon."

It's not close enough to make an announcement, Morehead added, speaking in Rome prior to a UGA Day event. Morehead's comments were provided to The Telegraph by another reporter who was present.

"We're optimistic on where we are at this point," Morehead said, adding later: "I think you'll be hearing more about a final outcome soon."

Georgia's athletic board is scheduled to meet May 20-22 in St. Simons, which may be when that decision is announced.

Athletics director Greg McGarity said in February, at the previous board meeting, that the facility would probably cost "in the ballpark" of $30 million. He also acknowledged that the main focus for a site was where the Hoke Smith Annex building currently stands; it is on the corner of Lumpkin and Carlton Streets, across from Stegeman Coliseum and the football team's outdoor practice fields.

The tricky part is that UGA owns the Hoke Smith Annex property, and the indoor facility will be built using athletic association funds. They are technically two different entities. So Morehead and McGarity have been trying to guide a process which, it seems, would result in the athletic association buying the property. That would also necessitate moving the current occupants, UGA's cooperative extension service for adult education.

McGarity has also said they did not want to rush the project, because they wanted to "get it right." So any construction is unlikely to begin this year, especially if the project bleeds into the football team's current outdoor fields. Smith Street, the narrow two-lane road that runs between the annex parking lot and the practice fields, is expected to be demolished if the current plans hold up.