Georgia to name indoor practice facility after Billy Payne

Two years after breaking ground on construction and exactly one year after dedicating it, Georgia’s indoor practice facility finally will have a name. From now on, the Bulldogs will practice inside the William Porter Payne Indoor Athletic Facility.

The Georgia Board of Regents on Tuesday approved naming the building after Billy Payne, as he is more commonly known, people with knowledge of the process confirmed. An announcement is expected from UGA soon.

It was not immediately known if Payne donated money toward construction of the facility or if others did in his honor, but a “substantial gift” generally is required by the regents for naming rights to a state building. The UGA Athletic Association reported that 100 percent of the funds for $30.2 million building were privately raised. The building was dedicated on Feb. 14, 2017, but has been in use since January of last year.

Payne is the recently retired chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the man most responsible for bringing the Summer Olympic Games to Atlanta in 1996 as president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.

He is an Athens native and a second-generation Georgia football letterman who played for Vince Dooley from 1965-68 and holds undergraduate and law degrees from the university.

As chairman of Augusta National from 2006-17, Payne is credited with opening membership to women and for his contributions to golf, such as including more international players in the Masters field and providing spectator access for children.

Payne also is a chairman and a founding member of Centennial Holding Co., an Atlanta-based real estate investment company that claims more than $1 billion in assets on its website.