TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- When August rolls around, Florida State will be the third team in the ACC this year alone to open an indoor practice facility.
As of now, the basic structure is in place and there is a lot of mud and dirt on the ground as construction continues at a furious pace so the facility will open right on Aug. 1 -- in time for fall practice and lightning season in Florida. If you want to know the biggest reason why coach Jimbo Fisher pushed for this facility, it's the L word.
You can generally predict weather in this state during the summer. Each afternoon is filled with a thunderstorm, many of them accompanied by lightning. There have been years where the Seminoles lost 10 days of work during fall camp because of lightning. Last Saturday, in fact, Florida State could not practice outside because of a raging thunderstorm.
That won't happen anymore.
The $15 million project -- funded entirely by donations -- features a 120-yard artificial turf field inside the facility, complete with a training room and storage space. Here is a good idea of how much bigger the training room will be compared to what Florida State used as part of its old practice facility. The old area was about 800 square feet. The new area will be 2,000-square feet.
Among the other cool features in the building: climate control to keep out the humidity (a must in Florida), platforms that allow video taping from both end zones or the middle of the field, windows at the top of the building to allow in natural light, padded walls all around, and an area for rehab where players can ride stationary bikes while still watching practice.
In order to come up with some of the features and design, Florida State officials toured several other indoor facilities, including ones at UCF, Duke and Auburn and picked what they liked best to fit their needs.
The indoor facility, however, is not the only part of the redesign. The entire practice area is being rebuilt. Two natural turf fields will be laid down next to the facility for practice outdoors. The area where the fields are now forced the relocation of the famous sod cemetery, reserved for big road/bowl wins. Had it remained in place, it would have been near the 40-yard line of the new fields. It's now housed just outside the practice fields.
A new drainage system also will be put in place that covers the fields from fence to fence, rather than the fields only. That will allow the sideline areas to drain properly, rather than puddle up with mud.
The prep work on the fields will begin Monday. The actual sod will be laid in about a month and a half. And then, voila, a whole new era for Florida State football practice just in time for 2013.