Larry Blakeney wants some improvements to the football facilities, and he's not shy about how he feels. Read it in Monday's print edition of the Dothan Eagle or on dothaneagle.com HERE.
BY DREW CHAMPLIN | email@example.com
TROY – Troy head football coach Larry Blakeney isn’t hiding the fact that he wants improvements to Troy’s facilities.
The last time Veterans Memorial Stadium had work done was in
2003, when an $18 million project resulted in the six-story tower that
Troy sells hard to this date. Since then, each sport except golf,
Blakeney said, has undergone facility renovations.
“We can be stonewalled or we can stonewall,” Blakeney said.
“Sooner or later, you’ve got to invest in facilities or you get left
While Troy was in the middle of its run of five straight
conference titles, shared or outright, he watched other schools make
changes. North Texas and Florida Atlantic opened new stadiums last year.
UL-Lafayette has an indoor facility. Western Kentucky’s stadium went
through a massive renovation four years ago. Arkansas State has a
three-story football complex. That’s just to name a few.
Troy has the Tine Davis Fieldhouse, which is adequate, but
“yes, you can operate in Davis Field House. But nobody on campus is
comes through and walks around our offices,” Blakeney said.
There are plans to enclose the north end zone of Veterans
Memorial Stadium. Blakeney wants suites which could be sold to pay off
the project, as well as a letterman’s lounge and a recruiting lounge,
team meeting areas and a locker room, coaches offices, and especially a
much better visitor’s locker room.
“The cherry on top of the sundae would be to attach an indoor facility to a new football building,” Blakeney said.
The project would be roughly $15 million, Troy chancellor Dr.
Jack Hawkins Jr., said, and if the school raises $5 million for that
project, it can get off the ground. Blakeney said if an indoor facility
was added, it could push the project to $30 million.
Right now, that progress isn’t close. Right now, they are just plans.
“I think we’re further away right now than we want to be,”
Hawkins said. “In the 23 years I’ve been here, we’ve never said we were
going to do something and we didn’t get it done. It’ll get it done, I
just can’t tell you when.”
Since the new Trojan Arena, which will house basketball and
volleyball, is close to being finished, the focus has moved to this new
football facility, athletics director Steve Dennis said. The progress
may not be close today, but a couple of quick and large donations could
Right now, Blakeney’s not sure where that will come from.
Hawkins did add that when debt service was paid off in the next year
from renovations to Riddle-Pace Field four years ago, that could free up
funds to possibly entertain a bond issue.
“I don’t mind asking folks to contribute,” Blakeney said. “I’m
not sure who to ask. I know we have people in our area who can afford to
help us, but I’m not sure a whole lot have the willingness to do that.”
Dennis, who was hired in 2005 after serving in a fundraising
position at Auburn, has worked with his staff to try to raise money, and
he had an optimistic tone about the project.
“We’ve got some options from an internal source and we’ve got
options, we’re looking for funding from an external,” Dennis said. “For
me to sit here and say there’s a deadline and timeline, I don’t know. If
I get a million dollar donor, we can get some things going on and maybe
get started tomorrow. If the economy goes and loses four trillion
dollars, then things get tough.
“My love for it is to see it happen as fast as it can. It is
definitely on the front burner to make sure we’ve gone through the loop
and now it’s to finish the piece of the puzzle for our football program.
“It’s not going to happen in the fall of ’12, but if we start
digging and get something going on with fundraising and get a good idea
with what kind of resources we’ll have, if we start really working hard
on the design and implementation, (we’re) getting it done in ’13, and
maybe moving in ’14.
“That is totally predicated on us raising money.”
Right now, the only new addition for Veterans Memorial Stadium
this year will be new turf. Dennis did say there were plans to have
three practice fields done closer to the new Trojan Arena. The hope is
that one could be covered, and one field could be for intramurals. Trees
between Troy’s current practice fields, behind Davis Fieldhouse and the
new arena, would be cut down.
That covered field didn’t jive with Blakeney’s hope for an indoor facility.
“That’s for aesthetics around the arena,” Blakeney said. “I
don’t know what we need two more practice fields, or three. I dang sure
am not going to turn it down, but it’s not something that will save the
program. I hope we can get turf on one of them.”
Dennis said the school is still looking for a corporate sponsor
for the stadium after Movie Gallery’s closing ended the company’s ties
with the school in 2010.
“It would be a big bang for the buck as compared to a 30-second
or a minute ad on the Super Bowl or for what anybody else would be
asking for,” Dennis said.
Other projects Dennis said were part of a strategic plan:
>> Baseball: Adding seats and suites down the right field line.
>> Softball: A $1.5 million project to redo the field,
knocking the dugouts down and rebuilding those, getting the sight lines
right, fixing the stands and getting the home dugout connected to a
covered facility similar to baseball’s current setup with the Lott
>> Tennis: A $2-3 million project with a goal and vision
to cover a couple of courts, have increased locker room size, facility
and office for the tennis program.
>> Golf: Dennis said Troy has the property for north of
McKinley Drive to have a practice facility, a $1-1.5 million project.
“It could be, say, four holes, change tees around, how are we going to
utilize that to be a golf teaching facility – not a golf course to come
>> Soccer: Plans are to get lights on the soccer field to attract tournaments and host night games.
>> Track: Resurfacing the facility.