Renovating the O’Connell Center is just one step in UF athletic director Jeremy Foley’s master plan.
Foley spoke at length about the detailed plan to upgrade the 35-year-old facility on Saturday, a plan that will reduce the arena’s seating by roughly 1,000 seats and essentially turn the building into a new facility without tearing down the existing structure.
With the renovation underway in a limited fashion and set to begin in full in mid-March, the university will now look ahead at the next facilities to be upgraded.
"We have a master plan that’s developed for us right now by an architectural firm," Foley said.
"We hope to have that master plan here in February that looks at not only our football facilities but every facility we have and what can be done, what kind of price tag are we talking about.
"We’ll sit down and figure out what our priorities are."
Among those priorities are continued efforts in football as well as softball, the athletic director said, although he isn’t sure what that will look like specifically.
But some sort of improvement to Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium is definitely on the agenda.
"That’s a back-to-back national championship program," Foley said. "That stadium was built 20-plus years ago. It’s a little small now.
"That’s a huge priority for us."
Foley pleased with McElwain’s first year: Despite the way the season ended for UF coach Jim McElwain and the Gators, the athletic director is confident the first-year coach has the program on the right track.
"We never put wins and loss expectations on our coaches," Foley said. "We want them to get the program moving in that direction, and it would be hard for us to say it’s not moving in that direction.
"Obviously, it didn’t end the way people wanted, especially Mac, but to sit here and look at a team that won 10 games and made it to Atlanta, made it to a Jan. 1 bowl game in the first year and with probably some holes, I think that’s a reflection on coach Mac and his staff."
Assistant coaches likely to stay in tact: Changes could still happen as the NFL season winds down and teams finalize their coaching staffs, but McElwain’s staff appears to be staying put.
Winning teams usually lose at least one or two members of their staffs who move on to bigger opportunities, but as of now, McElwain’s coaches have decided to remain in Gainesville, despite rumors that some were frontrunners for other college jobs.
"So far you knock on wood," Foley said about keeping everyone on the staff. "It’s as good of a football staff that I’ve ever been around."
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UF athletics director Jeremy Foley speaks during new head football coach Jim McElwain's opening press conference on Saturday in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.