Auburn sendoff to Final Four

Auburn Athletics Director Allen Greene walks through a reverse Tiger Walk at Auburn Arena as the Tigers' men's basketball team prepares to depart for the Final Four in Minneapolis on Wednesday, April 3.

The project proposing the construction of a new football facility at Auburn is still in its early stages, but fundraising for the building is well under way and off to a strong start, according to the university and athletics director Allen Greene.

The Auburn board of trustees set in motion those early stages in its meeting Friday morning, commencing the process of finding an architect for the designing of such a proposal.

If completed, the project would be funded entirely by donated funds and athletics department funds, surely totaling tens of millions of dollars. Florida State recently announced the construction of a football facility costing $60 million.

Greene said Friday morning that support for such a facility at Auburn is swelling.

“One of the things that I’ve been incredibly impressed with is the response from the Auburn Family,” Greene said shortly after the board finished its meeting.

It’s been part of his mission essentially since he was hired on as athletics director at Auburn in January 2018. Auburn finds itself in the growing arms race stretching across campuses around the country that has seen programs fight to stay at the cutting-edge forefront with their operations facilities.

“Over the past 13 or so months, we’ve targeted a number of different individuals and families and companies, and the response has been astounding — nothing I’ve ever seen before in our landscape,” Greene said.

“So that tells me that people understand the importance, and not only that, but they’re willing to support us financially.”

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has called on the importance of such a project as well, himself pledging along with his wife Kristi $2 million toward the project last fall.

“We are very appreciative of the board of trustees’ approval of a football performance center,” Malzahn said in a statement released Friday by the university. “This facility will be a tremendous asset for Auburn and the Auburn football program for many years to come.”

In that statement released by the athletics department shortly after the board’s Friday meeting concluded, the school said fundraising for the project through Tigers Unlimited is well under way and off to an “unprecedented” start.

“Obviously, we’ve been talking about this project for quite a big period of time, and it’s nice to be able to engage the Auburn Family and get the support of the board of trustees,” Greene said. “I think they understand how important this project is to the future of our football program, and we’re happy to do it together.”

There are still several hurdles the proposal must clear before ground breaks on construction. Friday’s approval authorizes the university to seek an architect and compile the “scale and scope” of the project. The hiring of the architect would then have to be approved by the board, before ultimately the project with full details and a total budget would be presented to the board for final approval.

Greene acknowledged that on similar projects at other schools around the country, it’s taken about a year to design and about two years to build.

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