HUNTINGTON - The Marshall football team enjoyed warm, partly cloudy conditions for Thursday's spring practice.
Sooner than later, the weather won't matter.
Marshall's Board of Governors on Thursday approved the contract to build the new indoor practice facility, the university announced. The contract was awarded to Portsmouth, Ohio-based J&H Erectors for $16,350,000.
"We're really excited," Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said. "It's a great day. A lot of people have worked hard to make this happen. I appreciate the support of our Board of Governors. Our bids came in underneath budget, which is good. It'll be a quality, first-class facility."
Construction is set to begin in 30 to 60 days. The facility will include a 120-yard turf field, a 300-meter track and space for a Hall of Fame. It also will house a student-athlete academic center and a sports medicine translational research center.
The benefits go beyond the simple ability to practice indoors when the weather gets bad, football Coach Doc Holliday said. That still is a major benefit, as anyone who remembers the Thundering Herd's spring-practice-opening sleet storm can attest. It gives other university sports like track and baseball an indoor home. It's also a huge carrot for recruiting.
"Recruiting's the name of the game," Holliday said. "We talk about how it's a personnel-driven game. Kids buy with their eyes. When they walk on campus and see the nicest indoor facility in the state and the nicest facilities in our conference - not only the indoor field, but academics and the training room - it's going to be tremendous."
A ground-breaking for the new facility will be held Friday, April 26, the day before Marshall's Green and White spring football game.
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ERIC FROHNAPFEL and the rest of Marshall's tight ends are seeing the field from a few new perspectives this spring. Not only have they been seen flanked in four-receiver sets, but they've also found themselves in the backfield as well, taking more of an H-back role.
"We're trying to do it now where we can just keep the tight end on the field all the time," Frohnapfel said. "So they're putting us at the fullback position. The first few days was definitely a lot to handle, seeing from the backfield and trying to get to the right guy. But as I've gone throughout the spring, it's definitely slowed down for me."