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Auburn football staff had small window to put together Monday’s indoor practice

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

The Auburn football team practices at Sports Blast Shelby County Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. (Wade Rackley | Auburn Athletics)
The Auburn football team practices at Sports Blast Shelby County Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. (Wade Rackley | Auburn Athletics)

Auburn had little time and few options in trying to find a spot to practice indoors Monday afternoon for the Birmingham Bowl.

With the forecast calling for heavy rain and winds throughout the day, the team’s support staff started calling places Sunday night to find an alternative to practicing outside at Hoover High School. 

“They were scrambling looking at that forecast,” Sports Blast Shelby County management director Dave Dresbach said. “They called us to see what we have available. All we had was the morning, but were able to put it together.”

Auburn was on the field at the 44,000 square foot facility less than 12 hours from Sports Blast receiving that initial phone call.

The multi-sport entertainment complex features two NHL hockey sized (190 by 90 foot) artificial turf fields side by side and is the only venue of its kind in the state of Alabama.

Sports Blast has hosted national soccer teams, the UAB football team and arena league tryouts in the past. 

On Monday, Auburn’s support staff arrived an hour before practice to get everything ready for coaches and players.  

“All we had to do was make sure the lights were on and doors were open,” Dresbach said.

The only restriction the Tigers faced in using the facility was practicing in running shoes. Sports Blast doesn’t allow cleats on its playing fields.

In the future, participants in the Birmingham Bowl won’t be able to count on Sports Blast as a backup option for practice. The facility is closing Jan. 4 and will reopen in April after undergoing major renovations

“The changes we are making wouldn’t allow them to run a full practice,” Dresbach said. “We are adding batting cages, a track and transitioning to a single athlete training facility.”

Auburn was back at Hoover High School Tuesday for its final practice of the 2015 season.

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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