The building and grounds committee of the school’s Board of Visitors approved a compromise location for the Hokies’ indoor football practice facility. It will be on an area that includes part of the current outdoor practice fields next to Lane Stadium.
It preserves the 14-acre Stadium Woods and keeps the facility close to Tech’s existing fields to preserve continuity during practice. It’ll cost $25 million, which comes from private donations.
Tonia Moxley has the full story about the compromise location here. An excerpt:
Both Tom Gabbard of the athletic department and John Seiler of the arboretum committee praised the compromise as good for the university.
Gabbard said this afternoon that it will preserve the limited practice time and the safety of student athletes. Seiler said as envisioned the new location will protect the woods from negative impacts.
A past proposal to build the facility on about three acres of the woods caused a major uproar inside and outside the university that continued for about a year. The plan came to light after dozens of centuries’ old white oaks were identified by forestry experts.
I don’t have a map of the exact location at this point, but a presentation made before the Board of Visitors in the spring outlined several sites. At the bottom of this link is that presentation. Site No. 10 probably most closely resembles what the facility will look like.
UPDATE: I spoke with Tom Gabbard, Virginia Tech’s associate athletic director for internal affairs. He oversees facilities projects, so he was able to offer some insight about the project:
– The site is where I mentioned before. Gabbard described it as the east half of the current outdoor practice fields. Essentially, anything east of the tower in the middle of the current setup, running along the tree line.
– A full 100-yard field will be indoors. Virginia Tech has options for the remaining space. It can keep the other outdoor field as 100 yards, running parallel to the indoor one. Or it can turn it sideways and have two fields — a 75-yard one and a 65-yard one that run perpendicular.
“That’s a lot, usually,” Gabbard said. “They don’t use the whole fields. They put the offense on one, the defense on one. It works out. Plus, we’ll put garage doors on the building, so they can go actually inside if they have to. And they still have the game field, which we may utilize more than we’re doing now.”
– Gabbard said he’d “ambitiously” like to have the indoor facility ready for use by 2015. “But things can happen,” he said. “And I hate to pin that down any further than that.”
– That’s because quite a bit has to be done. The next step is to bring in a criteria consultant who comes up with a program that design teams with architects and builders put together. There’s a competition then for the right design and price that a Virginia Tech committee will chose.
Gabbard said the same criteria consultant that was used for the football locker rooms will be used for this project. He estimated that process will take about 60 days.
– Virginia Tech also needs to raise all the money. The project can’t use state funds, so all $25 million of it will be raised through private donations. Gabbard said they’re not quite halfway there yet, although he didn’t have an exact figure.
“We’ve already gotten some pretty nice commitments,” he said. “Now that we have a site and a knowledge that we’re really going to do this thing, I think it will get a forward momentum and hopefully we’ll get it all raised.”
SECOND UPDATE: Athletic director Jim Weaver said Tech has roughly $11 million in cash or pledges already.
The $25 million price tag isn’t just the practice facility. It includes money allocated for the renovation of Rector Field House and for a new indoor hitting facility for softball.
– Gabbard was pleased with the compromise site. He said the athletic department wanted to accomplish three things:
1. Be easy to relocate quickly. He cited a lightning situation, which would require athletes to get indoors fast. “And with football and sleds and helmets and gear and all that, plus soccer, where there are nets and all that and lacrosse and all that stuff, we really needed it close by,” he said.
2. Make for easy medical access. Tech is currently expanding its training room, which is right there in the Merryman Center. “It just made more sense for us to be able to, if a kid gets hurt, not have to transport him somewhere,” he said. “Just get him inside where he can get treatment.”
3. Be close to the locker rooms. Again, everything athletics related is already in that cluster of buildings, so having the new indoor facility close is convenient. “It made all the sense in the world to have everything right here,” Gabbard said.