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BYU's indoor training facility in preliminary planning stages

"Substantial internal planning" has taken place for an indoor sports practice facility at Brigham Young University, but officials are still unsure when - and even if - the complex will be built.

An adequate indoor facility where the football team plus golf, soccer and baseball teams could practice has been on the wish list of the Department of Athletics for years.Academic Vice President R.J. Snow answered questions about the proposed facility and other topics during the Utah Valley Leadership Conference in Provo last week.

"It's no secret that we've been talking about this type of facility for 10 to 15 years," said Val Hale, assistant athletic director for external relations. "It's something we've needed and wanted for a long time."

Hale stressed that plans for the facility are preliminary and haven't been approved by the Board of Trustees.

In fact, the complex is just one of several projects being evaluated by a university committee for master planning. The master plan must first be approved by the President's Council before being submitted to the Board of Trustees.

"While plans have advanced significantly, approval has not yet been given," Snow said. "It is not expected that church-appropriated funds will be available for this facility, and our current planning focuses on the development of appropriate fund-raising activities . . . "

Snow said the facility could be located southwest of the current football practice field, which is near the Smith Fieldhouse and Richards Physical Education Building. A parking lot, street and part of Haws Field would have to be vacated in order to make room.

The complex could include a 100-yard football field with artificial turf and a 350-meter track. No architectural work has yet been completed, but the facility could cost approximately $22 million, Snow said.

The university has no timetable for completion, and construction on the complex isn't likely for several years.

But Hale said the indoor facility is a top priority for BYU athletics officials as they project 20 years into the future.

"The most urgent need is an indoor facility where our football team can practice in inclement weather," he said. "The space that we have to practice in now is insufficient."

The football team currently uses an undersized field inside the Smith Fieldhouse for practice during bad weather. Coaches, players and administrators for years have pointed to inadequate practice conditions as a reason for BYU's lackluster performance in mid-winter bowl games.

"I don't think there's any question that not having such a facility has hurt us," said Hale, who noted that offensive players especially can't perform well in games without space to spread out and run complete plays during practice.

BYU players also would benefit from becoming accustomed to playing on artificial turf, he said.

In addition to intercollegiate athletics workouts, the indoor facility could be used for classes of the College of Health and Human Performance and for the university's intramural program, one of the largest in the nation.

BYU spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins said the university has not made an official announcement regarding plans for the practice facility. The Provo campus is undergoing several remodeling projects as well as construction of new buildings.

The Eyring Science Center, Wilkinson Center, Lee Library and Bookstore are being renovated while a new married student housing complex and health center are under construction.