Georgia Southern University leaders broke ground Wednesday morning in the east end zone of Allen E. Paulson Stadium for the $10 million Football Operations Center (FOC) and the construction of an additional 6,200 seats. The projects come as the Eagles move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in 2014 and begin playing in the Sun Belt Conference.
"We are here today to witness the beginning of a new era in the history and tradition of Eagle football," said Georgia Southern President Brooks Keel, Ph.D. "This journey started more than 30 years go with a wild idea and fearless expectations. It continues today as we break ground and begin a new chapter in the storied history of Georgia Southern football and move to the national stage."
The 50,000 square foot Football Operations Center, which is privately funded, will have many state-of-the-art features and facilities including offices for the football coaches, locker rooms, workout facilities, meeting space and a Hall of Fame exhibit to showcase the rich history of the Eagles and the team's legendary players.
"Today marks a new timeline in the journey for Georgia Southern athletics," said Athletics Director Tom Kleinlein. "The Football Operations Center will house everything we need for our football program to be successful. The impact of these projects will be tremendous, and it's happening because of the kind gifts of Eagle fans and the votes of our students."
Last year, Georgia Southern students voted to pay a $75 fee to fund the move to FBS and a $25 fee for stadium expansion. The 1,100 seats to be added to the lower level of Paulson Stadium could be available this season, and more than 4,000 seats in an upper deck will be added to the north stands by 2014.
"If you look at the Sun Belt Conference and the teams we are going to play, we need a facility like this to be able to compete with them and in recruiting, retaining and developing the players that we need at Georgia Southern," said Jeff Monken, head football coach of the Eagles. "This is going to put us ahead of a lot of those schools immediately."
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