After one year and over $2 Million, the public will finally be able to see the new Bob Carroll football building for the UTM Skyhawks.
The building will be dedicated Saturday at the Homecoming game in honor of Bob Carroll, a former UTM football player and coach. Play begins at 2 p.m. as the Skyhawks take on Southeast Missouri State. The building will be dedicated at halftime.
“Homecoming and Bob Carroll were synonymous for the more than 15 years he led our alumni affairs office, so I think it is fitting that we honor him on homecoming,” said UTM Chancellor Nick Dunagan.
The day will begin with a reception at 12:30 for former players and Skyhawk Club members. The game begins at 2 p.m. with the formal dedication of the building at halftime.
The 17,000 square foot building was constructed to replace the team’s current facilities in Alumni Gymnasium, which has housed the team since the mid-1970’s. The team also hopes that the new building will help with recruiting efforts.
The front door of the building is on the west side. The ideas was to have an entrance that people could access without having to go into the stadium. There is a large yard outside the entrance which will be used for athletics functions.
Eventually the ticket office for the entire athletic department will be moved to the new building. A ticket booth connected to an office is one of the first things seen when someone enters the building.
The entrance is on the second floor of the building. The second floor is mainly administrative. Closest to the entrance is the head coach’s office as well as a conference room for meetings.
There is a large reception area outside the office which will be used to entertain families and recruits throughout the year.
Just down the hall from the coach’s office is what is considered to be the marquee feature of the building.
The multi-purpose room is a large, open room that will take on a variety of roles. With a full view from the south end zone, the room will be home for team meetings during the week and will accommodate the Skyhawk Club during games.
The multi-purpose room will also be open to media following games for player interviews.
A unique feature of the multi-purpose room is the doors that lead out to the birm on the north side of the building. A walkway on the birm goes to either side of the building.
On the other side of the multi-purpose room is the area set aside for assistant coaches. The suite has seven offices, six for assistant coaches and one for a graduate assistant.
There is also a locker room for the coaches at this end of the building, allowing the coaches to have a place to dress and shower separate from the players.
On the first floor is where most of the work is actually done.
On the east side of the building is the players locker room. The lockers were funded through an Adopt-A-Locker program. The 82 lockers were sold to former UTM players in exchange for having a nameplate of the player put on the locker.
A laundry room is also located in the locker room with two-way lockers for the players to drop off laundry after practices and games.
Also downstairs is the team’s equipment room and training room. The training room is complete with an office and a private physician’s room as well as tables and whirlpools for treatments.
“We had seen some features that other stadiums had so we knew what we wanted,” said UTM Athletic Director Phil Dane. “We took the building that we had, knowing what spaces were not adequate, to decide what we needed for this one.”
Dane also pointed out that no state dollars were used to finance the building, all of the $2.05 Million came from private donations.
Mrs. Kathleen Elam, the wife of the late Tom Elam, is the primary donor to the project. Mrs. Elam recognized Carroll’s contributions to the university and consented to the building being named in his honor.
One thing that some may see as a missing piece to the building is a weight room. Trying to make the best use of what was available and also to stay within budget, the decision was made to keep the weight room in Alumni Gym and renovate it.
The former Skyhawk locker room in Alumni Gym will be combined with the current weight room and will make way for a renovated 6,000 square foot weight room.
“We couldn’t have been more pleased with our contractor, Allen Searcy out of Union City,” said Dane. “They helped us keep some of the costs down with the project.”
“He’s a good contractor with local folks that are supportive of the university,” said Dane.
Dane feels that the addition of the building along with other planned renovations will give UTM one of the finest football facilities in the OVC.
Weakley County has recently approved an improvement project for the stadium because Westview High School also plays its home games at Graham Field. The county has agreed to fund new light poles for the stadium and if enough money is left over then a new concession stand could possibly be constructed.
The team spent the latter part of this week moving in to the building and should be in full-time in the coming week.