Article Originally Published by Jasmine Robinson on North Texas Daily
Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily
North Texas athletes can expect to practice in the newly-constructed Lovelace and McNatt Families Practice Facility by mid-October. The facility will be “football focused” but open to all Mean Green athletes that typically practice outdoors. This includes football, soccer, softball, track and field and any other programs in the case of inclement weather.
“It’s a building we obviously hope will help our student athletes develop in a lot of ways,” said Eric Capper, Senior Associate Athletic Director.
The groundbreaking ceremony occurred last fall and construction began in December of 2018. Construction will not be fully completed in October, but will be at “substantial completion,” allowing players to still utilize the facility as final touches are made.
The building was previously expected to open last July. The families of John Lovelace and Jim McNatt contributed a combined $5.5 million to the project, as reported by the Denton Record-Chronicle in October. The facility, in their namesake, had a budget of $18.9 million, according to Capper.
Capper said the main appeal of the facility will be practicing indoors rather than being subjected to the Texas heat and unreliable weather. The players also won’t have to worry about uneven or inconsistent surfaces outside, which aids in student-athlete safety.
“You don’t have to worry about lightning, you don’t have to worry about bad surfaces, wet surfaces, muddy surfaces when you’re training,” Capper said.
Practicing indoors will also keep the players’ schedules from being inconvenienced by rain. Luckily, he said, players haven’t had to worry too much about bad weather other than lightning. When practices get delayed, everyone must either go inside or to the concrete concourse underneath Apogee Stadium. Overall, Capper believes that practicing indoors will maximize efficiency.
“It just allows to maintain a strict schedule that all student athletes have and allows them a place that they can get out of the elements,” Capper said.
Football players will begin using the facility halfway through their season. The team usually practices outdoors on a grass field near Apogee Stadium at the stadium itself. The athletes anticipate the climate control that practicing indoors will introduce.
“Some people will just be more comfortable in there just because of the weather,” junior running back Evan Johnson said. “It’s hot out there [and] gets really cold. It’s gonna help a lot.”
The summer heat isn’t the only thing players have to worry about. For athletes training during the winter, practicing indoors is an added benefit. Tre Siggers, redshirt sophomore running back, said he’s excited to practice in the facility during the offseason and that being indoors will play a big part.
“If it’s cold [or] windy you can just go in there and workout without [any] distractions,” Siggers said.
The practice facility will house a full-size football field and track running lanes, as well as an elevated platform for photography and videography. The facility will have a lobby with a lounge area with chairs and televisions in addition to a kitchenette area.
Capper describes it as a place to get away from the practice field. However, it won’t just be for current Mean Green athletes, but prospective ones as well. The lounge area will be used to entertain recruits.
“The biggest thing that it does is it shows that the university has a commitment to student athlete development and safety,” Capper said. “When they are visiting potential schools they might want to go to, that’s one of the things that they might [want].”
Capper estimated that 75 to 80 percent of Division I football schools already have indoor practice facilities.
“It just shows how dedicated the boosters and UNT is just to provide something like that for us,” Kelvin Smith, a redshirt senior tight end, said. “I know that we were one of the last ones to build something like that so it just shows how dedicated they are to UNT sports.”
Upgrading athletic facilities will show the commitment from the university in investing in athletics programs from an academic standpoint and a personal development standpoint, according to Capper.
“When they see those schools that are investing in their total and overall welfare, that makes them more attracted then to go to those schools,” Capper said. “So this is just another step in that movement.”
Featured Image: The new Lovelace and McNatt Families Practice Facility is located off of South Bonnie Brae street behind Victory Hall, next to Apogee Stadium. Construction is estimated to be completed later this fall. Image by Grace Davis
Source: North Texas Daily