Kliff Kingsbury’s not breathing down Kirby Hocutt’s neck to build his team an indoor practice facility. The Texas Tech football coach makes it sound as if he cares little whether one ever gets constructed.
“We’ve practiced out here a long time without one,” Kingsbury said Monday. “We’ll make do with what we have.”
Kingsbury was asked where an indoor workout facility ranks on his priority list or if it’s a priority at all.
“No, not that I harp on, no,” he said. “We’ve won a lot of games here practicing outside and we play outside, so ... .”
That doesn’t mean the Red Raiders won’t someday get their indoor practice facility, maybe even before Kingsbury’s beard turns gray.
Hocutt, the Tech athletic director, said an indoor workout facility for football “is a priority for us as it relates to our future facilities planning and development.”
Tech has recently rekindled discussions with San Antonio architectural firm Marmon Mok to talk over size, scope and possible locations for such a facility.
“I think it speaks to the need we see that we do have for an indoor training facility,” Hocutt said.
Hocutt said Tech would have to come up with an architectural plan, have specifics to put in front of donors and then raise private funding. He guessed such a structure would take $15 million to $17 million depending on size and features, cautioning that he had little on which to base his cost estimate.
Hocutt said it’s premature to discuss potential locations, time frames or features.
“We’re still not far enough along in that process to publicly discuss anything we’re looking at,” he said, “because right now everything is very conceptual.”
The subject seemed relevant in the last few days when a winter storm brought sub-freezing temperatures to Lubbock for 76 consecutive hours — from Thursday into Monday afternoon.
Snow had to be cleared from the Jones AT&T Stadium turf before the Red Raiders practiced on Sunday.
“We had a tractor out there moving it off, which took a little while yesterday, but we got it done,” Kingsbury said. “It’s been fine. It is what it is. We’ve practiced outside for a long time up here.”
Kingsbury’s shrugging off a perceived need for an indoor facility is nothing new at Tech. His old coach, Mike Leach, snorted in disgust at the idea of weather influencing where his team practiced. Leach seemed to take it as a badge of toughness to be outside on the worst weather days.
The last three years, it was much the opposite.
Tommy Tuberville, who was sensitive to weather effects on his team’s preparation, tried to push an indoor workout facility up the priority list. He favored building an indoor workout facility over one of the team’s two existing practice fields, adjoining the Red Raiders’ football building and weight room.
Then the Red Raiders could opt inside on extreme-weather days.
Hocutt did say, “The idea of having it on an existing practice field location is off the table.”
Aside from planning and fund-raising, Tech has other ventures on the horizon. Next month, renovations will begin on the Fuller Track Complex team facilities, sports-medicine area and throws field. Hocutt said that will be a “seven-figures” expense, to be completed before Tech hosts the Big 12 outdoor championships in May.
Also on the to-do list are renovating the team facilities and sports-medicine areas at the United Spirit Arena and planning a south end-zone development at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Told that Kingsbury doesn’t seem to be lobbying for an indoor facility, Hocutt said, “That’s correct. At the same time, we want to make sure we develop the best possible long-term plan and long-term project for the program. We want to make sure when we do it, we do it right. I think we both agree strongly on that: that when we do it, it needs to be done correctly and not be something we rush to see how fast we can put it up.”
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