UK football notes: Barnhart offers glimpse of new practice facility

jsmith3@herald-leader.comAugust 8, 2014 


    Important upcoming dates for UK football

    Saturday: Fan Day

    Aug. 11, 12, 18: Practices open to the public

    Aug. 30: Season opener vs. UT-Martin

Surrounded by the banging and clanging that are the current renovations at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday, Kentucky officials unveiled more details around a future football project.

Before UK's annual Media Day, Mitch Barnhart offered a sneak peek at early renderings and some new details of the new, $45 million football practice facility.

"I hope that does give people a little bit of a glimpse of what we've been trying to put together over the last few months," the athletics director said of the facility.

The new privately funded facility "will give us an opportunity to do some really, really cool, unique things, tying this whole facility and one– stop shop, our players in an area where they can get everything they need," Barnhart said.

He offered a few new details about the project, expected to be completed in 2016, including:

■ The practice facility and training facility will be attached to the backside of the Nutter Indoor Training Facility facing Alumni Drive with adjacent practice fields.

■ It is expected to cover nearly 100,000 square feet of space.

■ Artists' renderings showed a similar design to the stadium renovations, including a wall of stacked Kentucky limestone near the entrance to the facility as well as the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that will cover the suites and new recruiting room at the stadium.

■ UK is still in the schematic design phase on the facility, which is expected to be finished later this fall, he said.

"And we'll be able to begin the process and get into the construction process," he said. "So, real excited about that and being able to move forward with that."

At a recent alumni event, UK Coach Mark Stoops said that unlike stadium renovations and planning, he and his staff have been "100 percent" involved in the training facility.

"Our facility, the football facility and what we're designing right now, I've been heavily involved with that," he said.

Stadium renovations

As for Commonwealth Stadium renovations, Barnhart said the plan is to finish some utility and steel work until the end of the month, then "clean it up, play some games, continue construction."

After UK finishes its home season against Georgia on Nov. 8, "we'll get into it hot and heavy in terms of shelling out the rest of the stadium."

That probably will mean more parking and transportation complications after the season, but Barnhart offered some solace.

"At the end of the day, we're going to have a better place to play football, a better place to represent the University of Kentucky, and I'm hoping we'll have everybody's patience and understanding," he said.

■ Barnhart specifically was asked about stadium pieces like the "Ring of Honor" that pay homage to past UK football greats. He called it a "piece of the construction package.

"We'll work our way through making sure those traditions — we've got a group we've worked with that have come in with designs and different ways of honoring traditions and signs," he said. "All of those pieces are included in one package. So certainly that's a piece."

Barnhart also expressed interest in finding a way to honor others in the UK Hall of Fame within the stadium.

Freshmen impressing

Mark Stoops talked specifically about several players and position groups on Friday, noting that he expects 12-13 of the players in this latest class to be redshirted, saying that "a good majority" of them will be offensive, aside from the receivers including Dorian Baker, Blake Bone and Garrett Johnson.

"Those guys have really looked good, really all the freshman receivers can help us, and looking forward to having that depth," he said.

As a group, the freshmen have impressed their head coach.

"A lot's been talked about and written and everything, but after being here for four practices, they're everything we thought they were going to be and more, a great group," Stoops said. "Really talented players, really have a good feel for the game."

■ Stoops was pleased with the bounce-back from the team after a lackluster practice on the third day of camp.

"They responded well, just like I thought they would," he said. "I feel great about the leadership of this team, and I feel like they bounced back well yesterday and have a good attitude today."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog:

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