Category Archives: Facilities
This is the first in a series of articles called “Trends.” These articles will examine current and emerging trends and their impact on college athletics business. This series will not be posted with the same regularity as my “Athletics Construction Roundup” but as trends develop.
Florida International’s new basketball court design is getting a lot of media attention. The goal of the design is to reflect the locale of the Miami school. In a previous article, I compared the new court with Oregon’s basketball court and Boise State’s football field. While those are fair comparisons, they are a bit obvious. Let’s take a look at some other playing surfaces that pay homage to the school’s location and traditions.
Perhaps the most obvious example is the endzone art of Maryland’s Capital One Field at Bryd Stadium. The design calls upon elements from Maryland’s state flag and matches the Terps’ much talked about jerseys. While many question the execution of the concept, the idea of using the state flag in its athletic branding makes perfect sense for Maryland.
South Carolina, also a flagship university in a state with a recognizable flag, has incorporated the crescent moon and palmetto tree into its football field design. The subtle design pays tribute to the state’s iconic flag without being too noticeable. At first glance, a causal viewer might even overlook the symbols at the 25 yard lines on either end of the field.
Texas A&M has subtly paid respect the state of Texas on its basketball court. The design is a scaled back version of three point line-to-three point line state outline used during the school’s Big 12 days. The smaller logo and use of stain create a classy look. Ohio State uses a similar concept with the outline of the state of Ohio in stain.
Arizona announced this field design will be installed this summer as part of a renovation of Arizona Stadium. Note the so-called ghost lettering in the middle of the field. The university has not announced whether this will be affected by the NCAA ban on hashtags* on the field. If the school is allowed to go ahead with the design, it could be a creative way for other athletic departments to circumvent the hashtag ban.
This unique field design was recently release by Wyoming. Many observers will first notice the mountains in the endzone. However, the subtle “7220 Feet” text on the sidelines is what really sets this design off for observant and knowledgeable fans. 7220 feet represents War Memorial Stadium’s elevation, the highest in college football. Despite the genius of this sideline text, schools are much more likely to imitate Wyoming’s endzone art.
In the modern world of Division I sports, flashy jerseys and unique field designs can bring attention to a program and attract recruits. In the past decade, the distinctive jersey trend has exploded. It started with a handful programs and within a few years nearly every football team, and many basketball teams, in the country had experimented with at least one special jersey. The best received designs do not isolate longtime fans but instead pay respect to the history and traditions of the program in subtle ways. As the trend of increasingly outlandish playing surfaces grows, the best designs will follow suit by honoring university traditions.
*If held to the letter of the law, this rule would eliminate virtually every trend mentioned in this article. State symbols such as those used by Maryland and South Carolina are not considered team logos. To use an extreme example- if enforced as written, this rule could force two of the most iconic endzones in football, Tennessee and Notre Dame, to be changed because they feature designs that are not team names or logos. It is highly unlikely than this rule will be enforced in that manner.
A story caught my eye last week about Kansas State University implementing a pilot program to sell beer to its fans during the six remaining home baseball games of the season. Several universities have experimented with the concept recently, and now there are approximately 21 Division 1 FBS schools selling beer at their home games. I thought it would be interesting to examine what we’ve learned thus far.
The University of Minnesota sold beer for the first time in its new football stadium last year, to mixed results. Sales totaled over $900,000, exceeding expectations and certainly demonstrating the demand is there. Astonishingly, however, UM claims to have LOST money on the program overall. The extra security personnel, tents and facilities, as well as equipment rental ate every bit of that $900k. UM officials admitted to perhaps being overly cautious, but still it is hard to imagine not making money on the sale of alcohol at a sporting event.
West Virginia University’s first year of selling beer at football games profited the athletic department between $500,000 and $700,000 depending on the source. WVU also said allowing sales in the stadium, along with prohibiting the ability to leave the stadium and return, cut down on alcohol related incidents commonly associated with binge drinking that goes on at pregame and halftime tailgate parties.
A quick glance at other schools showed Bowling Green State University profited between $20k-$25k in 2011, and Kent State University broke even. Syracuse University didn’t provide sales or profit numbers, but did say that beer sales make up 47% of total concession revenue.
It is difficult to find a consensus regarding the financial impact of selling beer to fans. Certainly some schools are making money while others are not. Two major factors appear to be playing into that: 1) pricing – the universities above range from $2/beer to over $7/beer; and 2) non-product expenses – Minnesota invested in large tents with generators, as well as extra security personnel, while other schools added minimal costs.
There does, however, appear to be a consensus that alcohol related issues did not increase as a result of the new policies. Further, several schools claimed they saw fewer incidents when selling beer in the stadium than they did before.
We’re still fairly early in this growing trend and more data needs to be collected and examined. But if there is a way to enhance the fan experience, increase revenue, and drive down alcohol related incidents by selling beer in the athletic venues, it won’t be long until a majority of schools will be on board.
Follow Daniel on Twitter at @DanielHare
Athletic department officials do not believe that the field at Bart Kaufman Field is the first of kind, but it is certainly rare. The new home to Hoosier baseball features no dirt anywhere on the field. Turf fields are undoubtedly commonplace in place in modern baseball, but a turf field usually features dirt on the base paths, or at least around the plate and on the mound. This IU photo gallery shows the AstroTurf field, including the turf mound and warning track.
Over the years, turf baseball fields have gained popularity. As turf has become more commonplace, the amount of dirt on artificial fields has decreased. First, dirt on the base paths was reduced to the areas directly around the bases. Next, turf fields with only dirt in the area around the plate and on the mound appeared. In recent years, teams like Ohio State, Louisville, and Virginia Tech have unveiled turf fields that only have dirt on the mound. But Bart Kaufman Field takes it to the next level with an all turf mound. At least one other totally dirt-less field is thought to exist. Consol Energy Park is shared by a high school team and an independent minor league team and in Pennsylvania. The Hoosiers new home could very well be the first all turf field in college baseball.
Last season, two northern teams made it to the College World Series. Part of Kent State and Stony Brook’s success was credited to an unseasonably warm winter which allowed both teams more on-field practice than in normal offseasons. While the bitter cold keeps many teams indoors, the effect of winter weather on field conditions should not be overlooked. Indiana’s Associate Athletic Director for Facilities Eric Neuburger says the all turf field will allow significantly increased field on-time for the Hoosier baseball program.
At the Division I level, postseason baseball host sites are awarded to programs based on merit, though teams ranked number one have been outbid for the right to host in the past. As a ranked team with an outstanding facility, Indiana has a serious shot at hosting a regional. This should come as a welcome change for NCAA as many, including Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, have claimed that baseball’s early start date is unfair to northern teams and makes it impossible for them succeed or host postseason events.
While baseball traditionalists may cringe at thought of a diamond without dirt, the benefits are too overwhelming for northern programs to pass up. The profound impact on off-season training regimens will be very tempting for coaches and administrators of teams located in regions with less than ideal baseball climates. Having a field that is suitable for play year-round could be a major recruiting asset for northern teams. Look for more turf only fields to pop around the country in the future.
Luke Mashburn is a Game Day Operations Specialist at Kennesaw State University. You can follow him on Twitter @L_Mashburn.
The first of many resources we’re adding here at BusinessofCollegeSports.com is a database of all the current naming rights deals in college athletics.
You can view the database under the Data tab above or click here. Thanks to intern James Maddox for compiling all the data!
If we’ve missed any, please let us know.
After a series of protests, many of which notably included students, FAU and the GEO Group have parted ways. According to this university press release, GEO Group, a company that runs prisons, withdrew its naming rights gift of $6 million dollars over 12 years. While no official reason was given in the release, the decision to withdraw the gift was obviously the result of the protests.
When first announced in February the deal was called “unconventional” by many. Vocal observers, include some i members and the aforementioned students, were appalled by the thought of a for-profit prison group’s name being on a stadium. Many of the concerns were based on claims of human rights violations in GEO Group run prisons. As a result, the admittedly witty nickname of “Owlkatraz” surfaced. Some objectors raised concerns about sports marketing in America. This New York Times article seems to imply that those who own stadiums will slap any name on them for the right amount of money.
There was always a deeper sports marketing issue with this partnership. Naming rights deals are similar in purpose to most other types of advertising: create increased exposure and keep the company’s name in front of consumers. But the GEO group does not have traditional consumers. Its revenue comes from public municipalities that own prisons. While the company more than likely could actually benefit from the increase in exposure, it is unlikely that it would have received widespread, national exposure from a 30,000 seat stadium that is home to a Sun Belt football program. (To be fair, FAU is moving to Conference-USA next year.)
It seems that this naming rights deal truly was a gift. The CEO of GEO Group, George Zoley, received two degrees from the university. It appears that this was an ill-conceived gift that started with good intentions. Unfortunately for both the company and university, what started out as an alumnus attempting to help out his alma mater’s athletic department spiraled into a national news story.
The University of Kentucky has recently announced a unique building project and partnership. The details can be found at UKNOW, the university’s own news site. Here are the highlights:
• A $65 million renovation and expansion of the Gatton College of Business and Economics. The $65 million project will be initially funded with $25 million in gifts and $40 million in agency bonds, approved by the legislature.
• The $100 million construction of a Science and Academic Building. The 263,000 square foot building will be funded by agency bonds and is the result of a partnership with athletics unlike any other in the country. UK Athletics will fund 65 percent of the building’s debt service ― or, in total, about $65 million.
• A $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium and the Nutter Training and Recruiting Center. The project ― which will add suites and club seating, while improving the fan experience throughout the stadium ― will be paid for by agency bonds and funded through the construction of suites. UK already has a waiting list for suites.
The first thing that stands out is an athletic department building announcement, particularly one from a major program, being included in an announcement of general university projects. Yes, all of the projects were approved on the same day but it is rare to see a university present such a united front with its athletic department. Keeping with that theme, the second bullet point contains an incredible nugget: the athletics department will fund over half of the cost of a campus building completely unrelated to athletics. In fact, all three projects will be funded by the university without the use of state funds. The project is being called BBNUnited. BBN, of course, stands for Big Blue Nation, the common nickname for Kentucky’s fan base. While many athletic departments donate money to their university (often to the general scholarship fund), very few make the sort of commitment that Kentucky has.
Critics of college athletics often lament how much is spent by athletic departments. Those critics believe, sometimes mistakenly, that university money that should be for academics is being used for athletics. This is certainly an old debate that dates back to at least the 1930’s when Chicago disbanded its athletics program and left the Big Ten in an attempt to focus on academics. In turn, to improve its enrollment and academics, Michigan State invested heavily in athletics and claimed the vacant spot in the conference. Details about the Chicago/Michigan State debate can be found in this book.
More recently, Spellman College similarly disbanded its Division III athletic program last fall. Citing concerns over spending one million dollars each year to benefit 80 student-athletes, the female only college decided to close the program. The money previously used for athletics will be used to support a new college-wide fitness program that will theoretically be utilized by all 2,100 students.
Clearly, there are vocal proponents of college athletics as well. As a result of Florida Gulf Coast’s recent tournament run, the old phrase about athletics being “the front porch of the university” has been thrown around at every chance. March Madness often highlights the good that college athletic departments can provide to a university. This includes national exposure and thousands, if not millions, of on-campus visitors each year. While it is well known that athletics can bring unmatched exposure for some universities, it is refreshing to see an athletic department so invested, literally and figuratively, in its university.
This is the first in a new monthly series on construction of athletics facilities. Each month I’ll provide you with a list of athletic construction projects in progress (and recently completed) across the country, including details on budget and scope of the project.
Southern Methodist University:
With the completion of its home basketball schedule earlier this month, work has begun on Moody Coliseum. The $47 million renovation will is scheduled to be completed in January 2014. Despite a total overhaul of the arena from the ground up, this project is being considered a renovation instead of new construction as it will be built in the existing exterior frame of the 56 year old building. Moody is the home of Mustang basketball and volleyball. The official website of the project provides more information, including a photo gallery of construction progress.
University of Mississippi:
Ole Miss will spend six million dollars for architects to plan its previously announced new basketball arena. The $70 million arena is part of the larger, $100 million Phase I of Ole Miss’ building project which includes upgrades to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium as well. A second phase consisting of an expansion of Vaught-Hemingway is also planned. The arena is scheduled to open for the 2015-16 season and construction could begin as early as the end of this year.
Liberty held a game in its new baseball stadium last month. Though the over five million project will not be totally completed until this summer, it is currently suitable for games. This stadium comes on the heels of recent football, track, soccer, and tennis projects.
University of Virginia:
Virginia opened its $14.5 million football indoor practice facility this month. The facility, named for former coach George Welsh, was completed despite a construction fire last year.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette:
The university has announced a $115 million plan for athletics facilities which features nine separate projects. The centerpiece is a five phase renovation of Cajuns Field which would eventually increase capacity to over 65,000. A new Athletics Practice Facility will contain football locker rooms and separate space for athletic training, strength and conditioning, and equipment operations. Other new construction includes the Student-Athlete Academic Center, Golf Practice Facility, and Basketball Practice Facility. The plan also calls for upgrades to the existing baseball, women’s basketball and volleyball, tennis, and track and field facilities. A Sports Plaza will be constructed to tie the new facilities to existing structures.
University of Texas:
Texas held a dedication ceremony for its Weller Tennis Facility late last month. The $8.8 million facility features four outdoor and six indoor courts.
Seton Hall University:
Athletic Director Patrick Lyons leads a tour of on-campus construction in this video. The two new buildings will house the campus fitness center and an athletic training center. The baseball stadium received a new scoreboard last month as well. Seton Hall has several other projects in the planning stages including locker rooms, arena upgrades, and an athletics hall of fame.
Florida International University:
FIU has some very interesting court designs that are apparently under consideration. There is no indication as to how far along FIU is in this process or if these designs are actually being considered. With on-court branding receiving national attention lately, this could be a topic to watch. Most innovations in college athletics get replicated. In addition to the rash of unique football uniforms inspired in part by Oregon, athletic departments have started adopting non-traditional turf styles made famous by Boise State. Two examples are Eastern Washington’s red turf and the purple and gray stripes of Central Arkansas’ turf. If this trend holds, many other athletic departments could have Oregon or FIU style courts in the future.
University of Arkansas:
Arkansas has added LED ribbon boards down the first and third base lines at Baum Stadium at a cost of $340,000. Last season Arkansas ranked second nationally in average attendance per game for baseball.
University of South Carolina:
South Carolina opened up its new softball stadium this month, although it is still under construction. When completed, the eight million dollar facility will seat over 1,200 fans. At the end of last month, the Board of Trustees approved $53 million for a variety of projects. New construction will result in a new football practice facility and a new building for the soccer programs. The plaza areas around Williams Brice Stadium and parts of the athletic village, including track and tennis facilities, will all receive upgrades. As a side effect of the work, football season ticket holders will see a $45 increase. The recently announced projects and softball stadium are part of a nearly $200 million building spree that was introduced back in 2006 and includes several completed projects such as the baseball stadium and a student athletic success center.
Dallas Baptist University:
Dallas Baptist opened a new baseball facility this season. Horner Ballpark was built at a cost of approximately five million dollars. The stadium opens as Dallas Baptist, formerly an independent, plays its first season in the WAC. Next year the baseball team will become an affiliate member of the Missouri Valley. All other DBU athletic programs compete at the Division II level.
University of Michigan:
A new softball stadium has been announced by Michigan. Construction will begin on the $5.3 million stadium at the end of this year’s softball season and should be completed by next season. The stadium will feature a three story building housing locker rooms, staff offices, and athletic training areas.
University of Alaska Anchorage:
UAA announced that Alaska Airlines has acquired the naming rights to its arena. The previously announced project will cost $109 million. The Alaska Airlines Center is scheduled to open in August 2014 and will house numerous athletic department functions.
George Washington University:
GWU and Arlington County recently opened Barcroft Park. The three million dollar upgrade was a joint project between the university and the county. GWU has played baseball at the county facility since 1993.
If you’re an athletics administrator and we’ve missed a project at your school, please let me know by email and I’ll be sure to add you to the list next month.
Luke Mashburn is a Game Day Operations Specialist at Kennesaw State University. You can follow him on Twitter @L_Mashburn.
ESPN sports business reporter Kristi Dosh (who also happens to be BusinessofCollegeSports.com’s founder) had a piece yesterday giving some perspective to University of Tennessee’s financial situation. One of the points she makes is that Tennessee’s outstanding debt on athletic facilities isn’t out of line with the rest of the SEC.
Here’s a look at outstanding facilities debt at each SEC school and the annual debt service (payments) for the 2010-2011 school year (the most recent available). All information is from NCAA financial disclosures. Vanderbilt’s information is not available via public records requests.
2010-2011 SEC Athletics Debt
|School||Outstanding Athletics Debt||Athletics Annual Debt Service|
|Alabama||$207.2 million||$13.3 million|
|Louisiana State||$202.0 million||$13.5 million|
|Tennessee||$188.1 million||$7.7 million|
|Georgia||$120.8 million||$7.9 million|
|South Carolina||$112.9 million||$3.5 million|
|Auburn||$106.1 million||$10.1 million|
|Florida||$80.8 million||$5.8 million|
|Arkansas||$64.1 million||$7.3 million|
|Texas A&M||$45.8 million||$6.6 million|
|Mississippi||$41.8 million||$4.6 million|
|Missouri||$26.8 million||$3.1 million|
|Mississippi State||$24.8 million||$2.3 million|
|Kentucky||$18.7 million||$2.7 million|
As Dosh points out in her article, this isn’t a true apples to apples comparison. For example, she notes Kentucky carries no debt on Rupp Arena, because it’s owned by the city. Check out her piece for more information.
Documents obtained from University of Tennessee show its football season ticket base has dropped by approximately 10,000 people since 2009. However, net revenue (profit) from football remains above average amongst other SEC members:
Football Net Revenue 2010-2011
|South Carolina||$35.4 million|
|Texas A&M*||$30.0 million|
|Mississippi State||$10.8 million|
*Texas A&M and Missouri were not yet members of the SEC in 2010-2011
The real issue, as noted in Dosh’s article, is the limited reserves Tennessee athletics currently has on hand: $1.95 million. That is one area not in line with other SEC schools, as AD Dave Hart notes in Dosh’s piece.
BY: ALI JENKINS
Over a year and a half ago, construction broke ground for LaBahn Arena, the new $34 million home of the University of Wisconsin’s hockey team. To much anticipation, the doors finally opened Oct. 1, officially ushering in a new era in Badger sports.
The arena directly affects six University athletic programs, namely hockey. Boasting the new Lance Johnson Memorial Rink, a 2,273-seat facility, and state-of-the-art locker rooms, the recently displaced men and women’s hockey programs now have a place to call home.
In addition to the revamped dressing rooms, a new student-athlete dining area for team’s post-practice and pregame meals opened where the men’s basketball locker room once stood. Now both teams at the Kohl Center, hockey’s old home, and LaBahn Arena will get to reap the benefits of the new facility and the luxuries found within.
Other amenities include contemporary offices for women’s hockey, new dressing rooms for the swimming and basketball teams, video theaters and an expanded sports medicine area.
While the upgrade may seem a bit excessive, its main purpose is ensuring the safety of Badger student-athletes. In recent years, the men’s hockey team was forced to travel three miles off campus to the Bob Johnson Hockey Facility for practice, because the Kohl Center was decorated for basketball. The journey usually meant maneuvering through busy roads, like Park Street and John Nolen Drive, sometimes on scooters with heavy equipment bags in the dead of winter.
If that facility was unavailable, the team had to relocate to the on-campus Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center. Despite the Shell’s close proximity, team skates there required players to dress at the Kohl Center before traveling down busy Dayton Street.
The men’s hockey team wasn’t the only program displaced on occasion. The women’s hockey team, although based at the Shell, had to travel in similar circumstances when ice time became available at the Kohl Center.
The new arena will cut down on potential travel accidents and allow both programs a place to practice year-round.
The men and women’s swimming programs also benefit from the new arena. A bridge connecting LaBahn to the Southeast Recreational Facility will give swimmers easy access to their new locker rooms, coach and student-athlete lounges and athletic training facilities.
You can check out photos of the construction from start to finish here.
Guest author: Tyler Jamieson (BusinessofCollegeSports.com Intern)
You’re the University of California, Riverside. You made the leap to Division 1 just over a decade ago. You’ve got a pretty cool mascot named “Scotty the Bear”. You’ve tasted varying levels of success in men’s golf and baseball, and women’s basketball and soccer. You had a pretty decent football team until 1975 when the program was discontinued due to low attendance and Title IX compliance. You’re 60 miles away from the glitz and glam of L.A. and your basketball and volleyball teams play in the luxurious… Student Recreation Center. In an age of iPads and high speed internet you’re rockin’ a Commodore 64. So if you’re A.D. Brian Wickstrom how do you go about getting funding for a long over-due multi-purpose arena? Apparently you go to China.
Allan Steele at The Press-Enterprise has an interesting look at how Wickstom had to “think outside the box” when coming up with a way to get funding for a badly needed arena. Wickstrom knew there was no way in today’s financial climate he was going to get funding for an arena through more traditional ways, so at the advice from an architect he looked into the controversial federal program EB-5. EB-5 is an employment based immigration program that allows potential would be immigrants the opportunity to obtain a green card for investing $500K or $1 million in a U.S. enterprise that creates or funds at least 10 jobs.
The goal of the program is to find new ways to pump money into businesses and areas that aren’t able to get loans, funding, etc. with investors being rewarded with a green card. However, opponents of the fund say the foreign money coming in isn’t providing enough of an impact to call the fund useful and that in effect the U.S. is just selling what should be far more valuable green cards.
It sounds like Wickstrom is ready to test the merits of the program as his visit to China and several presentations at a conference designed to introduce American’s to potential investors there have him staring down the barrel of a potential $20-$30 million in committed funds. Even if UC Riverside can get potentially $20-$30 million in EB-5 funds Wickstrom says there are still several hurdles to getting a new arena built, however they could use the money to get the arena started and get people excited about donating.
As an alumni or fan of a University what are your thoughts on schools securing foreign money for University projects? Is this a case where Wickstrom came up with a potentially clever way to get funding for a smaller school that is having trouble funding the cost of a new arena, or would larger schools with bigger endowment programs and larger revenue streams consider using this method as well in order to keep costs down for donors?