4 BITS: Florida Gators not pleased with O’Connell Center renovation cost projections, negotiating

By Adam Silverstein
June 16, 2015

1 » Florida Gators offensive tackle Roderick Johnson, whose career was deemed to be over after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis back in April, decided to get a second opinion on his condition in hopes of being able to build up his strength and return to the field. Unfortunately for Johnson, the second opinion he received was the same as the first – he needs to hang up his cleats. “[Spoke] with my family and trainers. [I] agree 100% with the professional doctors so Im making my decision on my own to walk away from this game,” he wrote Monday on his Twitter account. “I’m making this decision because I would hate for my mom to see me in a wheel chair. [Mom you’re] my blessing to start a new chapter.”

Johnson, who will remain at Florida on a medical hardship scholarship and is expected to remain with the Gators as a student coach, later added that he now feels like “all the pressure is off my shoulder[s].” Hopefully Johnson will be able to stay involved in the game off football and receive his degree, still allowing him to have a bright future despite this setback.

2 » Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley announced this spring that the planned $60 million renovation to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center would be delayed one full year after the school and the construction management team were unable to meet in the middle on the total cost for the project. According to The Gainesville Sun‘s Jeff Schweers, the University Athletic Association and its new partner have not yet come to terms despite Brasfield & Gorrie submitting “a preliminary budget” that would approach $62 million once all costs are considered.

The Gators originally earmarked $45 million for what was supposed to be a $42 million project with CPPI Inc. but pushed the figure up by $15 million after the firm said it could not accomplish the construction goals without additional finances. CPPI then reportedly came back with a total project cost of $63.4 million, which UF balked at. Now with $60 million to contribute, the UAA is looking to ensure that it does not go above that threshold once all faces of the project – conception, design, construction, insurance, furniture, etc. – are included. “We’re at the 10-yard line. We’re proceeding. They’re designing it. This project is a go,” Foley told the paper of the projected nine-month project. “If for some reason something comes up that prevents it from being a go, we’ll make that decision.”

3 » Four Gators baseball players will join USA Baseball and play with the 24-member 2015 U.S. National Team that will play at least 17 games this summer. Sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk, sophomore center fielder Buddy Reed, freshman catcher JJ Schwarz and sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Shore will all join the team in North Carolina at the conclusion of the 2015 College World Series. Florida is set to face Miami on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in an loser’s bracket elimination game.

4 » US. Women’s National Team captain and former Florida striker Abby Wambach is keeping her no-turf campaign going despite the Americans kicking off the 2015 Women’s World Cup with four points (one win, one tie) in their first two matches. Wambach told multiple media outlets this week that the United States would have “more goals if we were playing on grass,” noting that players are less likely to dive and slide for the ball due to the artificial turf surface they are playing on in Canada. Goals-per-game average has plummeted early on in this event, but Wambach has received some criticism for her comments due to the fact that they are U.S.-specific.

Nevertheless, like usual, Wambach has a point and will simply try to take her aggression out Wednesday on Nigeria as the United States looks to advance out of the group stage of competition. “The reality is, we’re on turf,” Wambach said, according to NBC Sports. “You have to play the ball more to feet, the ball rolls faster, it depends if it has just been watered, depends if the water has dried, depends on what turf we are actually playing on. So there are a lot of factors that go into that to the average person watching the game, they may not realize that it does make a huge difference to how the game is played.”

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