Tech indoor facility to provide recruiting edge

The “recruit platform” overlooks the soon-to-be-finished indoor field, an edifice that not even rival Georgia can claim.

“This puts us on par with other schools in the South and maybe even a little ahead of the game, as it relates to some of the other folks we recruit against,” athletic director Dan Radakovich said.

On Friday, the school gave news media a peek inside the roughly 88,000-square foot building, which will be ready when Tech begins practice in August. It was built on one of the fields at Rose Bowl Field, the Yellow Jackets’ football practice area. Inclement weather and lightning have occasionally forced coach Paul Johnson to move practices either to the Georgia Dome or to the Falcons’ indoor facility in Flowery Branch.

After his first season at Tech, Johnson made known to Radakovich his desire for an indoor facility. His wish was granted last fall when John Brock, a Tech grad and Coca-Cola Enterprises chairman and CEO, and his wife, Mary, gave a $3.5 million lead gift.

The project will come in on budget at $9 million. The original estimate was $6-7 million before Tech added architectural and sustainability pieces, such as a 280,000-gallon rainwater-collecting cistern, that increased the pricetag.

But the ability to match or surpass the bells and whistles of rival schools was not a small consideration. Linebacker Steven Sylvester said that recruiting trips can be repetitive and that “you want to see something that stands out.”

Tech and Duke will be the first ACC schools to boast football-specific indoor facilities. Virginia Tech and North Carolina share field houses with other sports. Clemson and Florida State have plans for their own indoor fields. Boston College uses an inflatable bubble.

Several SEC schools, including Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU, have full-field indoor facilities. Georgia’s recent expansion of its Butts-Mehre building includes a small area usable for walk-throughs.

The Tech facility is high on functionality and low on sparkle. Six garage-type doors lead to the neighboring outdoor field.

There is space for restrooms and a couple of operations rooms. The recruit platform, accessible at street level, sits atop those rooms. Because of space limitations, the field extends about 90 yards, cutting off at about the 10-yard line on the south end. It suits the coach’s purposes.

Said Johnson, “What we wanted out of this was a practice facility, and that’s what I think we got.”

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