Con­struc­tion un­der­way for in­door prac­tice fa­cil­ity

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THREE RIVERS EDITION -

SEARCY — The Hard­ing Univer­sity Ath­letic Depart­ment an­nounced it is build­ing a $5.2 mil­lion in­door foot­ball prac­tice fa­cil­ity, the largest in­door prac­tice fa­cil­ity in NCAA Di­vi­sion II and one of the largest in the coun­try for any level. It will be named the Huckeba Field House in honor of long­time foot­ball coach Ron­nie Huckeba.

“Nam­ing the fa­cil­ity af­ter Coach Huckeba is a great trib­ute to him and the in­vest­ment and in­flu­ence he has had on Bi­son foot­ball for most of his life,” said Jeff Mor­gan, ath­letic di­rec­tor. “Be­ing a player, as­sis­tant coach and head coach cov­ers many years of great ser­vice and a life­long work. Coach Huckeba has been a great teacher, men­tor and coach for many. This is a great way to honor him and also a way to honor all his fel­low team­mates, coaches and play­ers through the years.”

The project, be­ing built be­hind the univer­sity’s First Se­cu­rity Sta­dium home seat­ing area, in­cludes a 77,146-square­foot

fa­cil­ity, with a 133-yard Hel­las turf field and a large lobby, com­plete with pho­to­graphs and dis­plays that tell the story and his­tory of Bi­son foot­ball.

Head foot­ball coach Paul Sim­mons ac­knowl­edged the need for an in­door fa­cil­ity to ad­dress weather-re­lated prac­tice is­sues, as the team cur­rently has nowhere to prac­tice in in­clement weather.

“This fa­cil­ity is a tremen­dous bless­ing, as it en­sures

that our young men have ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to max­i­mize their de­vel­op­ment,” Sim­mons said. “Even in the worst con­di­tions, we can prac­tice and pre­pare to com­pete at the high­est level.”

The fa­cil­ity will be com­pletely funded by pri­vate do­na­tions from the Bi­son Broth­er­hood — for­mer play­ers, alumni and friends of the Hard­ing foot­ball pro­gram. The in­door field will be ded­i­cated to the Smith fam­ily, rec­og­niz­ing

their $300,000 lead gift.

“We’re proud of our ath­letic fa­cil­i­ties but only be­cause they re­flect our com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence,” Sim­mons said. “This build­ing re­flects the love of so many for­mer Bisons. We have gifts from guys who played in 1959, as well as com­mit­ments from cur­rent play­ers who are on the team right now. It’s a tes­ta­ment to the num­ber of lives that have been greatly im­pacted through Bi­son foot­ball. It’s a build­ing that re­flects the in­flu­ence this pro­gram has had on peo­ple’s lives and will con­tinue to have for a long time.”

Ground was bro­ken on the fa­cil­ity in July 2018, and it is ex­pected to be com­pleted by June 2019.

Hard­ing has won 67 games over the past seven sea­sons, the most by any col­lege foot­ball team in Arkansas. The Bisons were 9-3 in 2018 and qual­i­fied for the NCAA Di­vi­sion II play­offs for the third straight year.

SUB­MIT­TED

Hard­ing Univer­sity an­nounces plans for the Huckeba Field House, a $5.2 mil­lion in­door foot­ball prac­tice fa­cil­ity.

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