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Indoor facility remains goal for Miami

It is no secret Miami remains firmly in chase mode when it comes to facilities upgrades and expansion.

The Canes got another reminder of that Wednesday when Florida announced it would begin construction on a $15 million indoor football practice facility. That leaves Miami as the only "Big Three" program in the state without one.

But it is not for a lack of effort. Athletic director Blake James has been talking about building one on campus for the last two years and remains optimistic the plan will come to fruition soon. Yet he has no timetable, leaving Miami further behind in the arms race. Florida State opened its indoor facility in 2013, built entirely on donations. Florida remained one of the last holdouts to build one.

Now that distinction belongs to Miami, one of two schools in the ACC that won't have a permanent indoor football facility by the time 2015 ends.

"The good news is everyone on campus and with our program recognizes the need for the facility and that’s something that’s a priority for us and that we’ll work on getting in place here as soon as we can," James said in a recent telephone interview.

There are several problems that Miami faces that Florida State and Florida do not. First, the Hurricanes to not have as large or extensive a booster base to tap into for donations. So Miami has to work a little harder to raise the money necessary to build an indoor facility. A new sponsorship deal with adidas will bring in more revenues, and that will certainly help toward making the facility a reality.

Second, Miami does not have much land to work with as it tries to figure out where to best place its facility. Florida State and Florida could easily place theirs next to existing outdoor fields. Miami does not have that luxury because there is not much space beyond its outdoor practice fields. It is surrounded on all sides by the football facility itself, a campus parking garage, the soccer field/track and a gym, with tennis courts adjacent to that.

"We’re still trying to finalize where’s the best spot for it," James said. "As challenging as fund-raising is and permitting and all those things can be, for us it’s finding the right piece of land and being able to put that on the map and being able to do everything else from there. There’s only so much land, and we want to keep it close to where your practice fields are."

Third, Miami has to deal with the city of Coral Gables to get permitting approved, a process that can be lengthy at times. For example, it took six years for Miami to break ground on its on-campus basketball arena.

But hope remains alive for an indoor facility. Somewhere. Sometime in the near future.

“I’m confident we’ll be able to find a way to make it work within the parameters of what the city allows,” James said. "When we have that, it obviously will better equip our football program for whatever challenges it might have.”