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June 16, 2012TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama's Champions Plaza project, approved by the UA Board of Trustees Friday, will be named for gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson.
Earlier this week, the board reviewed the $2.8 million construction plan that will honor the success of all Alabama athletics programs with recognition of conference and national championships, and the coaches who have won them.
Patterson has won six national titles in gymnastics. In the 2011-12 academic year, UA enjoyed its greatest championship success as an athletic program, with national titles in four sports: football, gymnastics, women's golf and softball.
"The plaza and Wall of Champions - located in the core of the Athletics Complex - will provide a prominent and appropriate way to recognize and honor our coaches and their teams in a significant and lasting way," UA Interim President Judy Bonner said.
The Sarah Patterson Champions Plaza will be built between Coleman Coliseum and Sewell-Thomas Stadium, with a projected completion within 12 months. Davis Architects of Birmingham, which has handled other projects on the UA campus, will handle the construction. The area planned for construction serves as a popular gathering place for Alabama baseball fans. The project includes tiered seating for 600 facing Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
"I'm proud of all our coaches, but I do want to say how much I appreciate through the years Sarah's consistency, her efforts in building the gymnastics program, and the great success she's enjoyed for many years, the great recognition that has been brought to this university," said UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore. "This is a way the Board felt, I felt would be a way of saying thanks for a great career and a great effort on her part through the years. I'm very proud that this is taking place and is happening. It will certainly add to the area here, the beauty of it. It's spectacular when you see it. You can be proud, also."
According to Moore, the project has been roughly two years in planning, with several renderings being considered, all in the same location.
Project details include brick and precision concrete honoring each varsity sport's history, with special recognition for championships.
"I think it is a tremendous honor for our team to be included in this project, and something that really speaks to what our team and several others at Alabama have been able to accomplish this spring," UA women's golf coach Mic Potter said.
Patterson said she was excited to have the project named after her, but was glad its approval came in a year in which the UA athletic program won national titles in various other sports.
As for the recognition being on public display, Patterson said: "That's the best part. It doesn't matter what sport you're recruiting, when you're going to walk by and the see the Wall of Champions, you're going to see all the SEC championship teams, the NCAA championship teams, the coaches. When you're bringing a recruit here, it doesn't matter what sport it is, they're going to know they're coming to a level of excellence. We can put trophies in a room every place. We're making a great addition to our gym itself and to our office area as well, but there's nothing like walking across from the Mal Moore Athletic Building before you come up and show them the football building. All the things that go in our department and seeing this Wall of Champions, I don't think there's any better recruiting tool for any coach at the university."
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.