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Dear Auburn Family,
Over the summer, I had the great pleasure of traveling throughout Alabama and the Southeast to meet with Auburn fans and alumni.
Each visit brought different thoughts and suggestions from the Auburn family, though our facilities were a consistent topic of discussion. Are we continuing to improve our facilities? Do we rate as high as our peers in the SEC?
While there is great attention and emphasis on the sport of football by the Auburn fan base, there is still great interest in making sure the remaining 20 athletic teams are competing at the highest level.
Auburn University has some of the finest facilities in the nation - but we also have some improvements that need to be made.
Facilities have been a major priority during the past eight years. Since 2004, we have invested more than $160 million in both improvements and construction of new facilities.
The $160 million included $86 million for the Auburn Arena, $40 million for renovations to Jordan-Hare Stadium, $16 million for construction of the indoor practice facility, $12 million for improvements at the track and soccer facilities and $10 million on various projects at baseball, swimming, tennis and the Athletics Complex.
I want you to know what's being done to improve our facilities. Here's the breakdown:
The construction of the Auburn Arena was the first step in a long-term investment in men's and women's basketball. In addition to the main bowl and fan amenities, the Arena includes two practice courts, a weight room, coaches' offices, an equipment room, two training rooms, locker and team rooms. All areas of this project are now complete.
Watson Field House
The Watson Field House is a great building, with more than 30,000 square feet of workable space. Once the indoor facility was completed for football, we began work on renovating Watson to transition it into an Olympic-sport weight and conditioning facility as well as the home for our growing sports nutrition program.
A majority of Auburn's Olympic sports now call this building home for all their sports performance needs. As part of the $1.5 million project, the space was conditioned and divided for weights, conditioning and a nutritional area complete with fresh fruit, made-to-order shakes and other healthy snack options.
The weight room includes more than 30 platforms and two 650 square foot dumbbell areas, as well as a 10,000 square foot turf area for conditioning and warm-up.
The turf area is unique and one where the staff is able to blend weight and plyometric work capacity activities into one space where it would typically require two or three. It can function for close to 100 student-athletes working at one time.
Head strength and conditioning coach for Olympic sports Bryan Karkoska calls the Watson Field House, "the preeminent facility in the nation". Due to the flexible work space, the new center has allowed the strength and conditioning staff to expand their workouts to accommodate a variety of team and individual student-athlete needs.
Ground was broken early this fall on a $6.6 million Wellness Kitchen which is located just north of the new parking deck, across the street from the new South Donahue Residence Hall. This facility, which will service all students, will be completed prior to the fall 2014 semester. It will offer all-you-care-to-eat dining, featuring various action stations, a pizza oven, a carving station, a hot line with fresh meats and vegetables, a salad bar and a smoothie station.
In addition, the facility will be able to accommodate those with special dietary needs as it includes a separate allergy kitchen for food preparation. Under the direction of a registered dietitian, the Wellness Kitchen will provide menu choices for student-athletes to aid in the preparation for and recovery from athletic competition, injury prevention and immune support, while meeting other consumption needs.
A large gift was made to improve the Plainsman Park facilities. It is being used to renovate the clubhouse for the team, and should be completed by December, just in time for the team to utilize for the 2014 season. The donation also gives us a chance to put in place many of the changes that Coach Golloway felt were important for the program.
The home bullpen will now be visible with an opening in the Green Monster. The indoor batting cages are being refurbished and the coaches' offices are being moved to the first floor of the adjacent Rehabilitation Facility.
The softball field was recently renovated by adding turf behind home plate and replacing the infield dirt. The fence was moved back and shortened to six feet which will add excitement to the play in the outfield. New padding and improved graphics are also part of the project.
The Auburn Athletics Department is committed to providing all of our student-athletes great facilities in which to practice and compete. We look forward to seeing you at many of the venues in the upcoming sports seasons!
We take great pride in all our sports programs at Auburn. Student-athletes work exceptionally hard and we take very seriously our commitment to giving them the finest facilities possible. None of this would be possible without your strong support.
Thank you and I will continue to keep you informed of what the Athletics Department is doing to help and promote the fine men and women who make us so proud.
God Bless and War Eagle!