published Saturday, September 21st, 2013

UTC Mocs football building a long way off

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic director David Blackburn said Friday that progress is being made conceptually on the football building the school wants to erect across Each Fourth Street from McKenzie Arena.

In reality, he said, it will be a long time before shovel meets dirt or Bobcat tears up asphalt.

"We are raising some money to get started with the pre-planning phase, but it's not there now," he said in a phone interview. "We've already started conceptualizing what we think we need and what we think we want, but, gosh, I wouldn't even know how far we are from really getting started."

UTC can't do much of anything until it gets approval from the Tennessee State Building Commission, and Blackburn said the school won't be submitting anything for approval for many months. The firm Perkins+Will has produced the plans.

Blackburn said he expected the football building to cost around $15 million, which will require UTC to raise a lot of money, and that will take time. He said last month that typically schools want to raise about 25 percent of the needed funds quietly before going public with a fundraising campaign.

"We think $15 million is a pretty good number to go with, and that will include everything in the building," he said.

Along with housing all the needs of the football program, the building -- planned to be next to the Blood Assurance headquarters -- also would include athletics administration offices for senior staff. It will have a weight room and training room that will be available to all UTC athletes and a large meeting room that could be put to multiple uses, Blackburn said last month.

The athletic department is bulging at the seams on the fourth floor of the arena, with some staff members working at desks in the halls. Some minor renovations are being done on the fourth floor, including new paint and furniture in some areas.

Easy Saturday

Today is the only Saturday the Mocs have off during the regular season. They practiced Friday and will practice Sunday, but they have today to do most anything. So what will that be? Watch football, of course.

"[Son] Levi's got a football game. I'll probably cut the grass, watch some football and that's about it," head coach Russ Huesman said.

Cornerback Chaz Moore said he planned to take it easy and watch games on television. Wide receiver Tommy Hudson also said he planned to watch football, when he wasn't playing Grand Theft Auto 5.

Extra points

Left guard Synjen Herren and backup center Shaun Hill have ankle injuries and did not practice all week. ... Blackburn said UTC's 2014 schedule, a 12-game list that will include Southern Conference newcomers Mercer and VMI, could be completed by the end of the month.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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