Bulldogs move practice an hour away to Falcons' indoor facility

semerson@macon.comNovember 26, 2013 

Georgia's current indoor facility, which is the width of a regular football field, but only about 20 yards in length.

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ATHENS - Thanks to poor weather conditions, and the lack of a full-length indoor facility on its own campus, the Georgia football team got in busses Tuesday and trekked more than an hour away, to the Atlanta Falcons' facility in Flowery Branch.

Head coach Mark Richt put in a call to the Falcons when he realized the rain would prevent the team from practicing outdoors. Georgia does have an indoor facility, but it's well under half the size of a football field.

Richt lobbied for an indoor facility when he was hired in 2001, but because of cost and logistics, UGA only built the smaller facility about five years ago, as part of a $40 million expansion of the Butts-Mehre athletic complex.

"It'd be much nicer to have something like that closer," Richt said, then grinned, leaving it at that.

But under prodding from reporters, Richt granted that it's a hassle.

"You do have to spend a lot of time on the logistics of it," he said. "It's not like: Hey, go there. It's not like: Let's go start practice and if it gets bad go over there. It's just not that way. So when you have days like this and you're trying to figure out what we're gonna do, you spend a lot of time trying to work out all the details. Not only me as a coach, but our director of football ops, our managers, trainers, everybody. It changes everybody's life."

Richt hasn't given up hope of getting a full-length facility.

"It would be wonderful to have an indoor (facility). I think it'd be a great thing," Richt said.

The problem has been where to put it. Richt didn't want to give up one of the team's three practice fields to get a full-length facility. The football facilities are sandwiched in between the baseball stadium, Stegeman Coliseum, a track complex and an elementary school. So any new facility would likely have to be built further away.

But Richt is open to that too.

"South Milledge is closer than Flowery Branch," Richt said. "And we wouldn't have to ask permission to use it."

The question for Georgia officials the past few years is whether it's worth the expense - perhaps tens of millions of dollars - to build a full-length facility, which may only be used three-to-five times per year.

But the current indoor facility is certainly of little use for a regular practice.

"It's interesting, because you can't really practice in there," junior receiver Chris Conley said. "It's more of our green room. It's more of a walk-through room. When you have to come inside on a day like that it's definitely a mental preparation day.

"And this is not the week that we'd like to have that. We wouldn't want to have a mental preparation day because it's Tech. There's a lot of cutting. And the game is a very physical game every year regardless of who's on the team. So we need those reps, we need that physicality this week. We need these guys to get banged up a little bit, so that they're ready for the tempo of this game."

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