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The Facilities Race

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There is an article in today’s St. Pete Times about Florida’s new football offices. If you’ve been on campus in the past few months, it’s hard to miss. But who knew the Smithsonian of football was also being built?


The facility, which mirrors those of the basketball and swimming programs (on a larger scale), will feature a line of black granite bricks at the entrance honoring each of UF's All-Americans. The "Gateway of Champions" will include a 16-foot bronzed Gator. A bronzed plaque/bust of every member of the college football Hall of Fame will be showcased, along with every SEC, national championship, Heisman and other trophies former Gators have earned.


Twenty-eight million dollars will buy you that. (By the way, that’s $28 million of donations. We’re not FSU. We don’t hide empty classrooms in our stadium to get tax dollars. Sorry, it’s been a while since I ripped on the state’s third place university.) Luckily, Florida alums have the cash to provide for these facilities even as donations to charities have fallen in the current economy. So, at what point does this building end?


Just looking from 2002 when I was a freshman, UF has added skyboxes and club seats to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, nearly rebuilt McKethan Stadium, and now this. That doesn’t include the 2001 additions at the basketball complex and softball stadium. The only thing UF has left to do is build an indoor tennis facility instead of the three courts they have under a massive car port.


The facilities race has been going on since the mid-1990’s when the new bowl game and basketball tournament television packages made athletic departments into Fortune 500 companies. Since “a rising tide lifts all boats” the non-revenue sports benefited as well. Even as the economy is crawling along, college sports are still worth a lot of money. As long as CBS, ESPN and Fox are willing to throw buckets of cash at colleges, the facilities race will continue. Just don’t be surprised when Tennessee expands to 150,000 people/2000 teeth.