College Athletics Facilities Round-Up: October Part Il

Welcome to the College Athletics Construction Roundup! In this bi-weekly series, we bring you the latest updates on the construction of intercollegiate athletics facilities from across the nation. Part I of our October round-up brought some exciting developments, so let’s dive right into what’s new. 

Stadiums

Penn State Selects Architect for Beaver Stadium Renovations

In an exciting turn of events for Penn State fans, the university has announced its selection of Populous as the architect and a joint venture of Barton Malow, AECOM Hunt, and Alexander as the construction manager for the multiyear, multiphase Beaver Stadium renovation project. This move promises to usher in a new era of excellence at the iconic stadium.

Auburn’s Exploratory Renovations at Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn University is embarking on exploratory conversations about potential renovations to Jordan-Hare Stadium, particularly in the north end zone. The goal is to enhance the fan experience and modernize the facilities. The outdated scoreboard in the north end zone is also under scrutiny, with plans for a much-needed upgrade. The focus is on ensuring that Jordan-Hare Stadium remains one of the premier venues for college football fans. Additionally, improvements are already underway at Auburn baseball’s Plainsman Park, with enhancements such as the Hall of Fame Club and upgraded seating behind home plate.

Purdue’s Ambitious Plans for Ross-Ade Stadium

Purdue University is setting its sights on Phase 2 of its renovations for Ross-Ade Stadium, which could encompass a north end zone overhaul, expanded concourse, modernized pavilion, premium seating, and a new upper deck on the east side. While Phase 1, with a budget of $45.4 million, is still ongoing, Purdue is focused on the financial implications of the next phase. Fundraising efforts are key to preparing for this ambitious project, as the university aims to raise every dollar required to bring these developments to life. The commitment to self-funding these renovations distinguishes Purdue’s approach. Mackey Arena has also received significant upgrades, including new court-level scoreboards, improved lighting, and more.

Florida State’s Ticket Price Adjustments for Doak Campbell Stadium Renovations

Florida State University is planning $265 million in renovations for Doak Campbell Stadium, and part of the funding will come from an increase in ticket prices. However, the increased costs have elicited varying levels of “sticker shock” among fans. Some are concerned about the significant price hikes that will incur. The renovations aim to enhance the game-day experience for fans, but they also come with financial challenges. Seminoles Athletic Director Michael Alford acknowledges the complexities of the project and the task of balancing the needs of diverse fan groups.

Oklahoma State’s Boone Pickens Legacy Experience

Oklahoma State University is preparing to unveil the Boone Pickens Legacy Experience within the Boone Pickens Stadium’s West End Zone complex in 2024. This project will feature interactive exhibits that celebrate the life and accomplishments of Boone Pickens. To provide a sneak peek of this unique experience, former Cowboys Athletic Director Mike Holder will drive a replica of Pickens’ 1955 Ford station wagon in the upcoming homecoming parade. This experience aims to honor Pickens’ remarkable contributions to Oklahoma State athletics.

Fields

Cornell’s $55M Facility Project

Cornell University is making significant strides in its $55 million facility project, which includes the construction of a new fieldhouse named after the late supporter and former Board of Trustees chair, Peter Meinig. The 91,000-square-foot fieldhouse will feature a full turf field, scoreboards, and spectator areas, creating an indoor venue for Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse competitions. With $32.5 million already raised, the university has also partnered with donors on a $10 million challenge match fund for gifts of at least $250,000. Construction is scheduled to commence next fall, and the facility is expected to open its doors in 2026.

Northwestern’s Draft Agreement Proposal with the City of Evanston

Northwestern University has submitted a draft agreement proposal to the City of Evanston. This proposal outlines the university’s commitment to providing $100 million in support for city services and programs over ten years. Northwestern will ensure $2 million in annual tax revenues to the city, driven by concert events at Ryan Field. Additionally, the university will guarantee $500,000 annually to the two Evanston school districts, funded by a ticket surcharge on all concert tickets at Ryan Field. This initiative aims to strengthen the relationship between Northwestern and the local community.

Protests Surrounding Ryan Field Overhaul

The Native American Guardians Association (NAGA) is raising concerns about Northwestern University’s plans to overhaul Ryan Field. They argue that the project may disturb Native American land near the proposed construction site, potentially affecting ancestral burials and archaeologically sensitive sites. NAGA and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians have voiced concerns about this project, suggesting it could be seen as erasure through the suppression of Native American references. These protests add a layer of complexity to the renovation plans.

Facilities

Rhode Island’s $20M Fundraising Campaign for Facility Upgrades

The University of Rhode Island has launched a $20 million fundraising campaign aimed at supporting facility upgrades. These philanthropic contributions will complement the $65.8 million in Rhode Island Capital Plan funding included in the 2024 state budget. The campaign’s initial focus includes addressing long-standing issues with Meade Stadium, Tootell Aquatic Center, outdoor track and field facilities, baseball and softball fields, and the soccer complex. URI Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn emphasized the importance of having facilities that stand out among their peers, supporting college athletes and attracting top talent to URI.

Locker Room Renovations at the University of Michigan

The University of Michigan Board of Regents has approved two locker room renovation projects, fully funded through athletic department gifts. The first project involves a 14,000-square-foot expansion of the Glenn E. Schembechler Hall, which houses the football program. It will also feature gender-inclusive locker facilities for college athletes and staff. The second project, which focuses on the basketball team’s William Davidson Player Development Center, will undergo $10 million in similar upgrades. Additionally, the board has advanced plans to apply for liquor licenses, potentially allowing the sale of alcohol at Crisler Center, Michigan Stadium, and Yost Ice Arena by January 1. These renovations and enhancements aim to provide modern and inclusive facilities for Michigan’s college athletes.

University of Colorado’s Plans for Folsom Field

Colorado Athletic Director Rick George has discussed the university’s plans for changes to Folsom Field, with an emphasis on the west side of the stadium. George’s vision includes creating an open-air space that can be used throughout the year and will facilitate greater engagement among students.

Brown’s Indoor Turf Facility

Brown University is set to begin construction on its new 76,000 square-foot indoor turf facility at the Erickson Athletic Complex in the summer of 2024. This facility will to provide valuable resources for to its college athletes, while also enhancing the university’s athletic offerings.

Historic Alabama Mansion Reimagined

The iconic 19th-century Governor’s Mansion in Tuscaloosa is undergoing a transformative revival under the University of Alabama’s guidance, now known as the University Club. In collaboration with Invited, a company pioneering stadium club integration in college campuses, the University Club is set to reshape campus life. Situated within easy reach of the university and Bryant-Denny Stadium, it offers a unique setting. More than a social venue, it will become an immersive academic hub for gaining real-world experience, serving as a dynamic learning space for event management, hospitality, and operations students. This partnership is expected to unlock a wealth of internship and employment opportunities, rekindling community connections and fostering cherished shared experiences.

Northern Illinois’ 1899 Club

Northern Illinois University is making a significant investment in its athletic facilities with the creation of the 1899 Club. This multi-use facility, with an approximate budget of $4 million, will provide nutritional services for college athletes, starting with the football, volleyball, and basketball teams. The 1899 Club will play a crucial role in supporting the development of its college athletes.

Hockey

Northern Michigan’s Berry Events Center Renovation

Northern Michigan University has completed renovations to the Berry Events Center, with a $6.5 million project that reduces the rink’s size to enhance the player experience. The changes aim to bring more contact and goals to hockey, ultimately making it more appealing to spectators.

St. Thomas’ Anderson Arena Funding

St. Thomas University has made significant progress in funding the $175 million Lee and Penny Anderson Arena. A $75 million gift from the Andersons, along with contributions from the university and athletic departments, have brought the project closer to realization.

Football

Eastern Michigan’s Game-Changing Gift

Eastern Michigan University is on the receiving end of a monumental $1 million commitment from dedicated alumni, Maxx and Rachel Crosby. In recognition of their generous gift, EMU will bestow a remarkable honor by naming the football playing surface inside Rynearson Stadium after Maxx Crosby, who currently shines as a standout player for the Las Vegas Raiders. This gift not only supports Phase Two of the Championship Building Plan but also leaves an indelible mark on EMU’s athletic legacy.

Bethune-Cookman’s Touchdown with the John L. Bryan Sr. Practice Field

Bethune-Cookman University has scored a touchdown with its new on-campus football practice field, aptly named the John L. Bryan Sr. Practice Field. The field’s naming honors Bryan, a fervent supporter of B-CU Wildcat athletics, who recently made a significant donation of $20,000 to the football and basketball programs. Bryan’s philanthropic spirit follows in the footsteps of NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, who made a $1 million contribution to the field as well.

Wisconsin’s $75 Million Drive for Champions

The University of Wisconsin is announcing the public launch of its ambitious $75 million “Building Champions” campaign, aimed at supporting the construction of a new football indoor practice facility. This impressive undertaking received a significant boost with a leadership gift of $20 million from alumni Ted and Mary Kellner. So far, the campaign has raised $47 million, putting it on the fast track to success. Wisconsin Athletic Director Chris McIntosh has highlighted the transformational impact the new facility will have, benefiting not only Badger football players, but the entire Wisconsin Athletics community. This state-of-the-art facility signals the Badgers’ commitment to competing for championships and ensuring that student-athletes have the resources they need to succeed.

Golf

North Carolina’s $13.5 Million Green Revolution at Finley Golf Club

North Carolina is poised to unveil its impressive $13.5 million renovation and overhaul of the Finley Golf Club. This project includes a stunning transformation of the greens, with redesigns and recontouring that promise to elevate the golfing experience. The greens are now planted with Tif-Eagle Bermuda, surrounded by a three-foot band of Tahoma 31 Bermuda. In addition to the greens, the tees, fairways, and rough have been sprigged with new turf. Innovative enhancements like the state-of-the-art Bunker Solutions method will improve air flow and sunlight, ensuring golfers enjoy a world-class course.

Wrestling

Iowa State’s Vision for a State-of-the-art Wrestling Facility

Iowa State University is setting its sights on creating a state-of-the-art facility for wrestling with an expected budget of $20 million. This ambitious project involves purchasing and renovating the existing Iowa Attack facility located next to the Sukup Basketball Center. The renovated facility will feature six mats, a recovery room, a lounge area, locker rooms, and a track above the wrestling room, providing an exceptional training environment for the university’s wrestling program. Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard has committed $15 million from the athletic department, and wrestling head coach Kevin Dresser reports $2 million in additional commitments. The remaining $3 million will be sought from potential naming rights owners. The project is anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2025.

Baseball

U.S. Bank Stadium’s Turf Replacement

The Minnesota Viking’s U.S. Bank Stadium is set to have its turf replaced in February and March of 2024, a move that will have ripple effects on University of Minnesota Baseball. As a result, the Golden Gophers will need to find a new location for its 15 games that were originally scheduled to be played indoors. This unforeseen change has prompted head coach John Anderson to work diligently to rearrange the team’s schedule. The shift also means the team will be on the road for several weekends when they would have otherwise been at home. Anderson also highlighted the increased travel costs that his program will face as a result.

That’s a wrap on Part Il of the October edition of BCS’s College Athletics Construction Roundup. Stay tuned for more exciting updates in our next installment for the month of November, as the world of collegiate sports facilities continues to evolve.

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