UNA facilities compared to other universities

The athletic facilities at UNA are the venues where students, faculty and citizens of Florence can come together and watch sporting events. These facilities are also often the first thing that student athletes are introduced to when being recruited to choose UNA. With UNA officials continuing the push for Division I, officials may have to examine the current athletic facilities.

Braly Stadium, home of UNA’s football team, holds approximately 14,000 and hosts the Division II National Championship each year. OVC member Austin Peay University plays its home football games in a 10,000-seat stadium. Jacksonville State University boasts a 24,000 seat capacity at its home stadium for football. The University of Tennessee-Martin plays its home games in a stadium that consists of 7,500 seats.

The basketball and volleyball programs at UNA call Flowers Hall home. The 4,000-seat capacity is considerably less than the 9,000 seats at Austin Peay’s indoor sports arena, but relatively close to the 5,500 seats found at Jacksonville State’s coliseum.

After renovations were completed in 2008, the hitting facility, named after UNA alum and Major League Baseball star Josh Willingham, the locker rooms, the field lighting and full tarp have ensured that UNA’s baseball team will be playing at a top-quality ball park for years to come.

Athletic Director Mark Linder said the facilities at UNA are right in line with those in the OVC.

“Some of our athletic facilities are very good; some are under capacity, but we take good care of what we have,” he said. “Currently, we don’t have any needs necessarily, but we always have wants.”

With the addition of women’s indoor and outdoor track teams, UNA will be using a facility in Birmingham. Linder said the 750,000 square feet Crossplex facility is perfect for UNA right now.

“There are no plans right now for building a track facility at UNA,” Linder said.

Linder also said there are no current plans for expansion or refurbishing of current athletic facilities at UNA.

“This week we will be sitting down and talking to all of the coaches about their dream facilities and possible expansion projects,” he said. “Expanding seating capacity at Flowers Hall is also something we are looking to do in the future.”

Linder said officials would also be looking at improving the locker rooms and study hall areas for student athletes. Currently, student athletes use a room in the library as a study hall area.

“Each coach may have a different opinion on how their respective field or court helps in recruiting, but I think if we can get a student athlete to visit our campus, we have a great campus,” he said.