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July 1, 2008

FREE: Construction moving at brisk pace

Auburn's athletic complex is in the midst of a much needed facelift.

Director of Athletic Planning and Construction Randy Byars, who has helped oversee the $5 million, 18-month project, is very pleased with the results so far.

The new locker rooms, training room and hydro room have been completed and will be available for use starting Wednesday.

"The final checkout was (Monday)," said Byars. "The trainers will move back in Wednesday. I believe the last workout for this week is on Wednesday and when players come back on Monday they'll move into the new lockers.

"Everything went on budget and on time, so everything went well. The players love it. It's not only aesthetically pleasing, but functionally I think it will work much better."

In addition to the new lockers, players will have access to a new lounge area that includes a 60-inch plasma and new showers.

"We also improved the HVAC systems so we get fresh air in there and it doesn't smell like a locker room," said Byars. "The training room with the new hydrotherapy pools is on-line with any in the country."

The hydro room will include a rehab pool with a built-in treadmill and stairs, hot and cold therapy pools and a plunge pool.

"From what I understand, they're using a lot of cold tubs for post-practice, post-workout, to get the core body temperatures down," said Byars. "The cold pools are very vital. There's also an extremely cold plunge pool, it's set to 40-degrees, and used for extremities."

The assistant coaches' offices also received a major facelift with new carpet, new paint, new ceilings, improved lighting and new furniture. But perhaps the most important improvement can't be seen.

"We re-worked the wiring system so that the video replay would work much better than what they had," said Byars.

Those renovations are wrapping up this week with the offensive and defensive staff meeting rooms expected to be completed Wednesday.

"It was 19-years old and needed a dress up," said Byars.

The athletic complex is also getting a major facelift with the addition of office space for Facilities & Operations, Athletics Administration, Marketing & Promotions, the Athletics Business Office and a media room. The new offices are taking over the space that previously housed the Lovelace Museum, which will re-open as part of the new basketball arena.

"We're converting that museum space, which was two levels high, into office space," said Byars. "That project will be scheduled to end around the first of November. It will bring the administrative functions that are here in the coliseum over to the athletic complex where everything will be centralized."

While the renovations of the athletic complex are winding down, the construction of Auburn's new $92.5 million basketball arena is just getting started.

"The trustees approved the funding and that was the last hurdle to go," said Byars. "Pre-construction will occur on July 1. We'll put up construction fencing and once that's all in place, they'll start moving dirt and digging some big holes in the ground.

"For a while it will seem like not a lot is happening because they'll be going down instead of up. A lot of large piers have to go into the ground to support that much structure. The biggest ones will be around 36-inches in diameter."

The new arena is scheduled to be finished in time for the 2010-11 season.

***Click HERE to checkout our exclusive photo gallery of the new locker and training rooms, basketball arena and new student housing project (subscribers only).

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