Sunday, July 01, 2007

What Is More Important??

Parish Alford of the North Mississippi Daily Journal published an interview in the paper today he had with Pete Boone, Ole Miss Athletic Director. Among the many things they talked about were two projects currently on the drawing board for the athletic department: the baseball expansion and the new practice facility for basketball.

I read the interview and then thought to myself which project is more important. Both are truly needed and both are going to cost in the 10-20 million dollar range. The current baseball stadium was built in the late 1980s and up until about 6 years ago was perfectly fine for the crowds the diamond Rebs were drawing. Now under Bianco's leadership the crowds have outgrown the stadium for part of the year. On the other hand Tad Smith was built in the 1970's and has had only minor renovations to the building. Hosting two teams inside the same building has always been a struggle between the two coaching staffs.

In my opinion the basketball practice facility is more important to the overall progress of either of the programs. Taking a recruit to the Tad Pad is somewhat of an embarrassment to Coach Kennedy compared to the other arenas recruits are taken to in the SEC. A new practice facility would give the coaching staff something to show off to the recruits much like the IPF has been for football. As far as the baseball stadium I think it is alot of money that will add a good bit of seats that will only be used a few weeks out of the season. By all means I like the plans, I just think it may be a little much. So if I only had the money to do one project, I would go with the basketball facility. Agree or Disagree?

DJ: Has location been an issue with the cost overruns of the baseball stadium expansion project, or has that been primarily timing?
PB: We’ve had close to $80 million in construction in the last 10-12 years. It’s timing in the sense of compaction of time, not timing in when you do it, but trying to get it done in eight months was an issue and it still is. Location has nothing to do with it. The other is material cost. Location, they may have thought about that in the sense of cranes on the field, but that’s not a major issue.Timing, the architect, I don’t want to get into a position of trying to defend the architects, but we have no clue about any of that. We’re depending on them to talk to the general contractors, who then talk to the subs, and put these things together. Maybe that just didn’t appear outwardly to them on that. The material, a lot of it is rising costs within months. The architects even increased, because initially we were talking about $10 million. Two or three months before the bid they were concerned and increased it to $12 million. We were also probably trying to put in the highest quality of everything and still thinking that would come in within the numbers. Now as we’re going back through there are 30 or so items that we’re looking at that range from a $3,000 savings to a million dollar savings that have to do with timing, different ways to heat and cool, different electrical issues, all those kinds of things.We went through each one of those and debated. If you do this what will it do, what will it look like and how will it be structured. We’ll digest all that and get back with him and say here are the ones we want to leave in and take out.

DJ: Where do you guys stand with the basketball facility?
PB: We feel it will cost $10-$12 million. We’re trying to get $6 million committed before we have a full-fledged campaign and start the detailed drawings. We have about $4 million committed now. We’re making a big push to get to six and take that package to the chancellor, let him look at it and see if we can’t get going.

DJ: What’s your best hope for ground-breaking?
PB: I have learned to not give dates. It’s like in baseball, we’re going to get it done, and it will be done right. It will be here for many years. The date that we start is not near as important as getting it done.