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Let it rain: Miami breaks in indoor practice facility

There's still a considerable amount of construction work remaining on Miami's football practice facility, and it's slated to last for another few weeks at least.

The field, however, is done. And the Hurricanes jumped at the chance to use their new turf.

Miami practiced in its $34 million, 83,000-square-foot indoor facility for the first time Friday, even though there frankly wasn't much of a need for the Hurricanes to be in there. The sun was shining, no rain clouds were in sight, and the official grand opening is scheduled for two months from now.

But for a program that has been waiting years for such a building, the hope is that it represents a significant step forward.

"This was a piece of the puzzle that was missing for us and one that we knew we needed to get in place," Miami athletic director Blake James said.

The facility, named in honor of longtime Miami donor Carol Soffer, is slightly shorter than a full 100-yard field, and goalposts are up on only one end of the complex. None of that is considered a drawback by Miami, which has had countless practices interrupted or delayed over the years because of torrential rain and lightning that is common to South Florida during most of the summer and fall months.

In the past, bad weather usually left the Hurricanes scurrying inside to get some work in on a basketball court. Now, all they'll need to do is sprint from their grass outdoor field through a garage door.

"We got to be able to be in the cool shade and run around and fly around and take care of our bodies and not get that much sun on us," defensive back Jaquan Johnson told reporters after practice. "That was pretty neat."

Said linebacker Shaq Quarterman: "It was awesome. Way more cooler inside. I really appreciate that. It really felt good to be here. This has been a long project before even I got here. So it just feels good to see it come to pass and just be in here for the first time."

Construction started about 15 months ago. Coaches' offices overlooking the field still need to be completed and other phases of the project remain, but the main attraction -- the field -- is ready.

"Everyone really bought in and supported and recognized what a need this was for our program," James said. "That's why we're here in relatively a short window, and I couldn't be happier for our guys."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.