On Friday, the Georgia Tech athletic department hosted a sneak preview of the John and Mary Brock Football Practice Facility, which is scheduled for completion by the end of August, 2011, less than a year after the project was first announced.
“This was just a dream a year ago,” said athletic director Dan Radakovich. “Then the Brocks came forward, and the architect and builder joined in the process. It all came together. The project has been a model of team work and efficiency.”
John F. Brock III is chairman of Coca-Cola Enterprises and a graduate of Georgia Tech (ChE ’70, MS ChE ’71). He previously served as a member of the Georgia Tech Advisory Board and was named a College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus in 1996. He and his wife Mary committed $3.5 million to the project, which amounts to approximately one-half of the cost of construction.
“We are, of course, very excited about the new building,” said head football coach Paul Johnson. “I appreciate the Brocks for providing the lead gift, as well as Dan [Radakovich] and the administration for making it happen so quickly.”
The construction firm of Barton Malow has served as project manager, implementing a plan designed by Knight Architects. Jason McFadden of Barton Malow guided members of the media on a tour of the facility, and chief architect Joe Knight was also in attendance. Other guests included Radakovich, Johnson, along with football team members T.J. Barnes and Steven Sylvester.
Sylvester, a senior linebacker from McDonough echoed Johnson’s sentiments. “It’s exciting. This has been going on for several weeks/months, so to see it come together like this… It’s exciting.” In addition, when asked for his first reaction upon seeing the new building, Sylvester remarked, “It’s huge!”
The project required 590 tons of steel to build and consists of a full-size football field in an enclosed space with massive hangar doors that allow easy access to and from the existing outdoor facility, which is situated directly adjacent to the new building.
Indoor lights hang high above the perimeter of the field, replicating the lighting one would expect to see in an outdoor stadium. A viewing platform surrounds the field, and upon completion there will be a camera system mounted in the ceiling, allowing practices to be filmed. The field will also have a single field goal located at the north end of the facility, same as the outdoor field, since “Coach Johnson’s offense always drives north,” as Mr. McFadden noted in his presentation.
“It will help with recruiting,” said Johnson. “But mainly it just helps us function better as a program.”
Barnes, Tech’s massive defensive tackle (6 feet, 7 inches and 333 pounds) made similar remarks. “In the past, when we had bad weather, we’d have to go to different places, [the Atlanta Falcons’ indoor facility at] Flowery Branch, here or there, and sometimes we’d have to wait thirty minutes or an hour. It took away from practice time.”
With the new facility, the team will no longer face such challenges.
“This is gonna be good for us. It’s right here on campus. We don’t have to leave. It’s home,” said Sylvester.
The 88,000 square foot facility remains on schedule for completion within the next two months, and the Georgia Tech football team will open its schedule with a home game versus Western Carolina on Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m.