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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Four Gator athletic teams will receive new or revamped facilities for their 2022 seasons

The University of Florida’s $93 million athletic facilities master plan is expected to be finished in the next few months.

Florida Gators Athletic Department ambassador Steve Spurrier autographs the final steel beam at the James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Training Center at the facility’s topping-out ceremony on Tuesday, June 8.
Florida Gators Athletic Department ambassador Steve Spurrier autographs the final steel beam at the James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Training Center at the facility’s topping-out ceremony on Tuesday, June 8.

Four teams, four shiny new facilities.

Phase three of the UF athletic facilities master plan is expected to be completed this Spring, fostering a fresh start for four Gator sports teams.

The final stage of the nearly eight-year plan includes the creation of the James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Training Center and a soccer team facility. There will also be upgrades to the lacrosse facility and tennis complex.

Women’s soccer and lacrosse

About 8% of the plan’s $93 million budget will go towards an upgrade for the women’s soccer and lacrosse teams’ shared facility.

The soccer team will upgrade in April from a portable trailer to their own wing of the lacrosse facility, Donald R. Dizney Stadium, Howard wrote. The $7.4 million will add 13,800 square feet to the building and renovate 2,000 square feet of existing space.

The lacrosse facility developments will include a reception area, lounge, storage, team film room and coaches’ offices.

The soccer facility will be an addition to the current lacrosse building. It will provide the soccer team with coaches’ offices, a locker room, a training area, equipment storage, a lounge, a film room and other program spaces. 

The women’s soccer team currently shares the Lemerand Athletic Center on Gale Lemerand Drive with three other UF teams. 

They’ve used the center as a locker room, meeting hub and rehabilitation facility for many years, Cameron Hall, defensive midfielder on the women’s soccer team said.

For practice and games, the team traveled to the Donald R. Dizney Stadium on Hull Road, 1.4 miles away from the Lemerand Athletic Center.

“It was kind of inconvenient because that’s all on-campus,” Hall said, “And our fields are out by the baseball stadium.”

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Because of the commute, the Gator’s soccer team uses the women’s lacrosse team facility — a space created over ten years ago — during practice.

“It does get kind of hectic in there, especially right now, because we both have morning practices,” Hall said. “They are in season, and we are not in season, so technically they have the upper hand because they need it. But it’s not like we don’t need it, so it is a little bit of a mess. We make do with what we can, and we try to get out of their way.”

The women’s soccer team does have a space of their own out by their facility, however. It’s a portable trailer that doubles as a locker room.

“Imagine an empty room … that has one bathroom and a bunch of chairs around it. It has cubbies that we put our cleats in,” Hall said.

While her team was able to still make memories in their locker room on wheels, Hall said she is most excited about having an actual space that feels like theirs.

Football

The other 91% of the budget will go towards the football Gators team.

“I think we are all going to be grateful for what we have and understand that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’” Kyle Engel, a Gators quarterback said.The Gators football team is looking forward to a new beginning in the 2022 season, welcoming Billy Napier — the former Louisiana coach — into The Swamp and making use of their upcoming state-of-the-art football training center.

“It’s kind of ironic how everything is going to be new: new coaching staff, new facility. I think it’s going to help the new staff bring their own culture into this program,” Engel said.

The $85 million dollar Heavener Football Training Center will feature a locker room, weight room, rehabilitation center, sports medicine area, nutrition house, meeting areas and coaches’ offices, Chip Howard, Executive Associate Athletics Director for Internal Affairs, wrote in an email.

“The facility will serve as the new daily home of the Florida football program,” Howard wrote.

There will also be the addition of a dining hall in this complex, along with indoor and outdoor amenities for all 500 Gator student-athletes.

Contact Lily Kino at lkino@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @lily_kino.

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Lily Kino

Lily Kino is a second-year journalism major covering Santa Fe. When she's not writing, Lily is either going on nature walks or swimming with her goldendoodle, George.


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