War Eagle Extra

Dedicated football facility still has place in Auburn’s strategic plan

Could Auburn add a dedicated football-only building near the team's practice facilities?
Could Auburn add a dedicated football-only building near the team's practice facilities?

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn doesn’t have any complaints about the team’s athletic facilities.

Malzahn has referenced the university’s world-class facilities when discussing the satellite camp debate this offseason. The school’s focus on upgrading the team’s athletic facilities is a major reason why Malzahn and his coaching staff make it a priority to get kids on campus for a visit.

Athletic director Jay Jacobs intends to keep it that way.

“In this business you have to be able to see around the curve as competitive it can possibly be,” Jacobs said. “You can only sign 25 student athletes talking about football. You have to think about what’s next because the trees are so tall in this league that you have to keep up with the competition because students today are looking at where is your treasure? Because that’s where your heart is.”

The treasure in Jacobs’ colorful metaphor includes the numerous projects the university has completed in recent years — a $6.6 million Wellness Kitchen and $51 million residence hall — aimed at improving the student-athlete experience.

It might also include a new dedicated football facility.

“You can’t ever get complacent with your facilities or you will wake up one day and be behind in this league,” Jacobs said. “It’s why we have to keep pushing to do what’s best for Auburn whether it’s a football facility, equestrian facility, sports medicine facility. We have to keep working everyday to provide the best facilities for our student athletes so they can have the best experience in the nation.”

The idea of football-only complex isn’t a new one. The Auburn University Board of Trustees were presented with a preliminary budget of $30 million for such a facility back in May 2015. The tentative timeline for the proposal was for 2018.

Jacobs doesn’t have concrete plans to renovate the team’s current athletic complex on Donahue Road or build a new building, but he can see a scenario where the project gets pushed to the front burner.

“Absolutely it’s in the top 10,” Jacobs said of a potential football only facility. “What that means if it’s going to happen next year or 10 years from now? It just depends on everything else that goes on.”

During the SEC Spring Meetings, Jacobs discussed the proposed improvements to Jordan-Hare Stadium’s North end zone. A decision on the upgrades could be made in the fall based on the feedback Auburn receives from fans and how fundraising progresses.

The North end zone proposal was included in Jacobs’ “16 for 16” plan the athletic director outlined in January, which included four goals and 12 action items for the upcoming year with facility improvements one of the core goals.