Every Monday through Friday, rain or shine, you will find the Million Dollar Band on Butler Field when 5 p.m. rolls around. It is the same field the band has been practicing on since its inception in 1912. Through the Alabama heat or unpredictable afternoon showers, practice will go on.
Katie Smith, Student Government Association arts and sciences senator, realized that this was a problem and, as her first act as a senator, drafted a resolution for the creation of a facility exclusively for the Million Dollar Band.
“I wasn’t mandating anything,” Smith said. “As a student and SGA senator, I realized it was a problem and we needed to fix it.”
According to the resolution, The University of Alabama is one of the only schools in the SEC that does not provide a private practice facility for its band. The resolution listed Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, among others, as schools with enclosed band facilities.
“To have such a great football team and such a great band, from an outsider’s view, it is unfair,” Smith said. “Why shouldn’t they have a building?”
Whenever it rains, the band is forced to either cancel or push through the elements, which Smith said she thinks is unfair.
“At first [playing in the rain] is fun,” sophomore trombonist Drew Cicero, said. “But then once you’re dripping wet, you’re kind of ready to go home.”
Courtney Maddox, a junior piccolo player, said in addition to making unpredictable weather irrelevant to practice conditions, a new enclosed facility would also make practice more efficient and altogether more pleasant.
“This is my first season to be a part of the Million Dollar Band, and the opportunity to have our own practice building would be a huge honor for such a respected organization,” Maddox said.
Cicero said a facility that provides a place to store instruments, air conditioning and functioning bathrooms would be ideal. Under current conditions, band members are forced to use the bathroom of the nearby Arby’s during daily practices, he said.
Cicero, who is also a senate assistant to Smith, said band directors have been working on plans for a private facility for a while now. When Smith approached him about the resolution, Cicero said he would help draft the final copy, which passed in the senate about two weeks ago. Cicero said he hopes the backing of SGA will bolster the facility proposal and cause University administration to respond to the need.
At this time, the administration has not delivered a response to the resolution, but Smith and Cicero remain hopeful they will be on board with the idea.
“We make do and appreciate what we have currently, but our own facility would create a more ideal practice environment,” Maddox said. “We would have an actual home.”