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The Tampa Tribune (Florida)

The University of Florida's athletic budget for the 2014-15 school year was approved by the University Athletic Association, the department's fundraising arm, on Tuesday.

While the numbers are very similar to last year — an increase of more than $3 million over last year to $103,310,001 — the budget includes plans for a couple of projects that could hold a major key to the future.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley said UF is planning to hire an engineer to draw up plans on the $50 million renovation of the O'Connell Center, which will cost more than $2.7 million. The hope is to play the first portion of the 2015-16 basketball season on the road while the work is being completed, with the start date tentatively after the 2014-15 season.

Foley said he expects part of the 2015-16 schedule — with six to seven home games on the road — to be finalized in the next eight months. He said the response has been overwhelming, with every major city in the state wanting to host a game.

Foley won't allow it to turn into a bidding war, though, because he wants to spread games around the state so all the fans get a chance to see a game.

Another major project is a $23 million renovation of the office of student life and academic advisement center, adding more than 40,000 square feet, a 125-seat auditorium and a sports medicine research area, which Foley feels will provide a huge boost in recruiting.

A $1.75 million design is about to begin, with a target date in July. A major donation is expected on the academic facility, while fundraising continues on the basketball facility.

Florida is also about to do $450,000 in practice facility field improvements - basically replacing the practice facility surface as soon as the summer camp for high school stars ends. There has been speculation that an indoor practice facility could be in the works, but Foley said that's not a priority at the moment.


June 11, 2014


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