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CORAL GABLES — On Thursday, UM gave local media a tour of its under-construction Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility.
It had Mark Richt looking back on his playing days (1978-82) at Miami — some of which were wet and dangerous, without a place to seek shelter from storms.
“In my day we just kept going,’’ he said. “We felt for the guy who was filming [practice] in the filming tower, like, ‘Could we at least let him come down?’’’
Under the roof of the 83,000-square-foot building, Richt pointed to his future office, which will be suspended in the air over a shortened side practice field. He will be able to view all Miami’s practice fields, indoor and outdoor, from his windows and a balcony that goes outside.
Recruits, naturally, will be able to join him.
UM senior associate athletics director Jesse Marks said the school has raised $33.6 million of a $34 million goal, the balance of which will allow for finishing touches such as a video board. Marks led the tour, along with project superintendent Carlos Padron, of Lemartec.
Padron said the building will have 56 feet of vertical clearance for kicking and punting. Garage-style doors will allow for seamless transition from the grass fields to indoor turf fields when inclement weather arrives.
At present, lightning in the area sends Miami players to a gym, where they change from cleats to sneakers, wasting valuable practice time. No longer, once the building opens in late July.
Richt said his team will try to practice outside as much as possible. But an indoor session here and there will help both bodies and natural grass fields stay fresh.
“There will be moments we might even flex (warm up) in there and then come out and practice,” Richt said. “Or, say we’re in camp and it’s 95 [degrees] and 95-[percent] humidity every day for five days in a row. They’re depleting their electrolytes, they’re getting drained completely, they are getting washed out. Day four or five maybe we go inside and we just help them stay fresh.
“Because a fatigued group of guys can also pull muscles. They can get injured.’’
Like Richt, cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph was used to spartan facilities during his Miami career (1998-2001). He called the new facility “a dream come true.”
“My second year here, they kept promising us this new gym,” he said. “I thought it was a recruiting trick. It really came in my second year and it kind of gave us a feel of who we were, and we got a better recruiting class coming after me. I think this indoor is doing the same thing. It’s going to help us recruit and have better practices.”
Richt, who pledged $1 million of his own cash to the project, has been showing recruits renderings of the new building. Soon, he’ll happily give them tours.
“The whole world kept moving and we kind of stood still for a second,” Richt said of UM, one of a handful of major-college teams without their own indoor practice facility. “Now we’re cranking up again and everybody knows it.”