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Monday, September 20, 2021

Beam by Beam: Heavener Football Center topped out

Athletic director Scott Stricklin and football coach Dan Mullen spoke at ceremony Tuesday afternoon

Dan Mullen signs a beam at Tuesday's ceremony for the new football center.
Dan Mullen signs a beam at Tuesday's ceremony for the new football center.

The final beam above the entryway for the James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Center was set in place and screwed in tight on Tuesday afternoon.

UF athletic director Scott Stricklin and head football coach Dan Mullen spoke about the new project to donors, media and hundreds of hard-hatted construction workers while they chowed down on barbecue cuisine from Cowboyz, a local Gainesville joint.

Former Gators coach and 1996 National Champion Steve Spurrier made an appearance as well to put his signature on the final beam and promote his future restaurant, Spurrier’s Gridiron Grill.

Stricklin mounted the podium first to describe what goals are supposed to be met after the completion of the 142,000 square foot facility.

“When you invest in this level or something of this magnitude, you realize you have one shot to do it right,” Stricklin said, “You want to have it done just so and you want the people that are using it day-to-day to have everything they need so that it does impact our program in a positive way for a long, long time.”

According to Stricklin, Mullen went the extra mile while the blueprints were being drawn out. While sketching out the weight room, pool or even the hallways, Mullen peeked over the architect’s shoulder to see if he could add his input.

The first set of steel for the 142,000-square-foot facility was placed 70 days prior to the topping out on Tuesday.

Stricklin and Mullen excitedly spoke about the possibilities the new facility could bring to campus, especially in the recruiting category, before they inked their names on the final beam in orange and blue marker.

According to Mullen, there will be all kinds of amenities student-athletes will be able to enjoy, including a golf simulator and a recording studio. 

There will also be five total pools holding a total of 90,000 gallons of water available to use for all student-athletes.

Mullen took inspiration for the facility from other universities and highly regarded corporation headquarters in places like Silicon Valley, California.

“Why do people want to work at Google or Apple or why do they want to work at different corporations?” Mullen said. “Recreating that same type of environment where people want to be.”

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Mullen and Stricklin strapped up a hard hat to get their front-row view of the top-off and listen to the final screw getting drilled in. The James W. “Bill” Heavener Football facility still holds an expected completion time of Spring 2022.

Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352

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