ATLANTAŚWith its first football season less than two years away, Georgia State officially broke ground on its future football practice facility in a ceremony Thursday afternoon at the site, located just a few blocks from the campus.

 

President Carl Patton, Director of Athletics Mary McElroy, head coach Bill Curry and Cathy Henson, chair of the Georgia State University Foundation, dug the first shovels into the ground on the 3.8 acre plot at 188 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. in downtown Atlanta.

 

Plans call for a 100-yard artificial turf field and a 50-yard natural turf field. An existing building on the site will be renovated and added upon for a complex that will include locker room, training room, weight room, equipment room, coaches’ offices and meeting space. The project will be completed in phases, with the first priority to install the fields so they can be utilized for practice next fall. The remainder of the project will be phased as funding permits.

 

Georgia State will begin play in 2010 with games at the Georgia Dome, but Curry and his staff are currently recruiting student-athletes who will sign in February and then enroll and begin practice next fall.

 

GEORGIA STATE PRESIDENT CARL PATTON

“First I want to say to all of you, thank you for what you are doing for our students. We’re in this for our students. Football will be great for Georgia State because it’s going to create more life, vitality and activity on our campus and it’s going to engage our students more in the life of the University. So I want to thank every one of you here and many others for bringing us this far, to the groundbreaking for a practice field.

 

“There are many thank yous that I need to acknowledge. First of all, I’d like to acknowledge Cathy Henson and the Georgia State University Foundation for the support that they’ve given us. The Foundation helped us purchase this property, so I want to say thank you.

 

“The first and most important category of donors is our students. The students voted an increase in the athletic fee, so thank you, students, for supporting football. And then we have many private donors here, and I want to thank each and every one of you who have contributed and will continue to contribute to football. That private support is very, very important. You have helped Georgia State move to yet another level. I think the entire city of Atlanta should be proud of what we’re doing here. I think what we’re doing here today will be seen in the future as a very important moment in the history of Georgia State.

 

MARY MCELROY, DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS

“I want to thank the team of people on campus who scoured this city and found this wonderful parcel of land so close to the campus. We thought we could only dream of getting as lucky as we did in finding this piece of land that is going to be so beneficial to this program and so close to the downtown area.”

 

BILL CURRY, HEAD FOOTBALL COACH

“We’re thrilled about being here. How quickly we are able to utilize this facility is going to depend on how quickly we raise the money to get it done. We’ll be out calling on you and giving you the opportunity to continue to contribute, and I think you’ll be very pleased with the results of your football program. Football is the greatest team sport ever devised because it’s the only sport where every player needs every teammate on every play just to survive. That’s exactly what our Georgia State community is. We all need each other and we’re calling on you now to help us get this thing going.

 

“This is an ongoing, ever-changing process, and it’s fascinating. My job is to keep order and make sure we’re focusing on the things that matter the most at the right time. I said that the first day, and for once, I got it right. There’s so much to do that it would be easy to spend energy and be unproductive in two or three different ways while scattering our energies. So we have focused, and everyone has responded well.”