>To the naked eye, LTP believes IU’s Memorial Stadium renovation got the most bang-for-the-buck and could be a good blueprint for PART of the much-needed Ryan Field overhaul.
The occasional feature series profiling relevant stadiums (Oregon State, BC so far) has been very well received by LTP readers. Thanks to a tip from Tim, next up will be Bobby Dodd Stadium on Monday which may very well be the model case study for future Ryan Field stadium makeovers. Before we dive in to downtown Atlanta, let’s first offer up some Big Ten context on fellow stadium spends and lay the continual groundwork that is convincing me more each day that we do need to invest some significant dollars in to Ryan Field.
Northwestern spent approximately $20 million thanks to the Ryan family in 1996 which enabled NU to lower the field to improve sight-lines, add a brand new press box with limited luxury boxes, a new lockerroom facility and added a new scoreboard. Also, concession stand areas were widened and -drumroll please – seating capacity was REDUCED to 47,130 from just over 49,000. Construction was completed in 1997. Let’s take a spin around the Big Ten and see what others have done:
Illinois – $100M – Completed for ’09 season
The Illini recently completed a massive multi-year renovation that, like most renovations, addressed endzone seating adding 14,000 seats total to the north and south end zones while reducing large seating areas on the west side for a 3-story luxury box/press box addition. Ancillary adds like a weight room that overlooks the field were part of the “Illinois Renaissance” project.
Indiana -$55M – Completed summer ’09
Iowa – $86.8 Million – Completed 2006
The Hawkeyes similarly overhauled one endzone in ’06 adding a beautiful plaza area and upgrading the endzone significantly. A lot of the overhaul, however, was in infrastructure that including nipping and tucking seating in several areas to widen concourses, and triple restrooms and concession stands while of course, adding luxury boxes and premium seating. You can check out the photo gallery here.
With our success in Kinnick, I feel as though we own a piece of this place.
Michigan – $226 Million – Nearing completion (Summer 2010)
This is the head-scratcher of all head-scratchers. The Big House is barely getting any bigger, but they’ve spent nearly four years to add a completely new press box and a stunning wrap-around the entire stadium luxury box ring that is absolutely incredible in person. Still, the fact that 83 luxury boxes, 3200 club seats and widening of aisles and individual seats net less than 2,000 new “seats” is nearly inexplicable to me when you consider Minnesota was able to build a brand-new 49,000-seat stadium for about the same price.
Michigan State – $64 Million Completed 2005
Spartan Stadium, to me, wins the award for the second most bang-for-the-buck (behind Indiana) for what they did. They added 24 luxury boxes, 800 premium seats and 3,000 regular seats while creating an Iowa/Indiana-like entry plaza that is the welcoming site to the stadium. They renovated the lockerrooms, widened concourses and touched up other infrastructure elements as well.
Minnesota – $288.5 Million – TCF Bank Stadium – Opened in 2009
The Gophers made by far the most significant change – a brand spanking new stadium. What more do you say other than the fact capacity (50,000) is the closest to Ryan Field (47,130),. The stadium was designed with future expansion very much in mind and the add-ons would enable this infrastructure to build in to an 80,000-seat stadium. Check it out here.
Ohio State – $194 Million – Completed 2000
The Horseshoe’s major facelift rivals Michigan’s in terms of cost and least visible changes on a bang for the buck-o-meter. Ohio Stadium was overhauled in 1999 as thousands of additional seats were added to the upper deck. They completely overhauled the press box and added 81 luxury boxes, 2500 club seats and a nifty new scoreboard. The change was actually very noticeable to Buckeyes fans as the capacity rose by more than 10,000. You can get a good sense for how significant the upper deck extension was when you look at old and new photos of the panaromic variety.
Penn State – $93 Million – Completed 2001
Beaver Stadium’s facelift catapulted Penn State to the forefront of the total capacity arms race as they added 12,000 seats to a new capacity of 107,282, second only to the Big House in terms of largest stadium capacity in the nation. Like many Big Ten upgrades, the endzone seating was a key visual upgrade.
Purdue – $70 Million – Completed 2003, Yet Two More Phases To Go.
The Boilermakers’ Ross-Ade Stadium renovation took more than three years to complete and actually reduced capacity from over 66,000 to the present day 62,500. Purdue’s “phase I” was completed in 2003, but there are two more planned phases which will have a dramatic change to the stadium. Phase one was similar to Ryan Field’s makeover and included a completely new press box, the addition of 34 luxury suites and a 200-seat indoor club level. However, the phases to come include an upper deck on the east side of the stadium and an upper deck in the north endzone that will connect the two sides.
Wisconsin – $109.5 Million – Completed 2005
Camp Randall’s overhaul was an epic 4-year journey to complete. In addition to adding more than 4,000 new seats to bring the stadium to a present-day capacity of 80,321, a new press box was added, as well as 72 luxury boxes and nearly 1,000 premium seats. Additionally a ton of concourse expansion was completed. The Badgers also built a 5-story administrative building, new football-only offices, a new ticket office, new lockerrooms and more. Click here for all the details.
So there you have it. Every single team has had a major stadium renovation since 2000 with all but two having the major renovations since 2005. Northwestern as you know has not had a renovation since 1997. And, the renovation in 1997 pales in comparison to even the smallest renovation in the Big Ten. Add Nebraska, which had a massive overhaul in 2006, and you get the point. Our facilities are lagging way behind our competition. While the attendance does not justify it, from a recruiting standpoint – the lifeline of future success – it is a big deal. Imagine being a 17-year-old kid and that all-important moment when you walk in to a stadium on your recruiting visit. Pick any of the other 10/11 schools and try and measure the “awe factor” and we come in dead last. Also, not even noted on here are the “modest” $3-$4million upgrades for the likes of brand new scoreboards (which we desperately need) and new fields and the like.
I’ve been a staunch proponent of NOT going in to stadium renovation until we fix the attendance issue. However, when looking at it from a recruiting standpoint, it is clear we are further handicapping Fitz and company. Based on AOL Fanhouse’s numbers the $8 million in net profit that football brings in per year, it is time to invest in the growth area of the program. Clearly the capital investment of a $100Million plus renovation will take some time to recoup, but looking at it from a strictly business perspective, that type of investment, when calculating the increased talent level and ability to sustain on-field success, increase attendance via our marketing department overhaul should make the ROI a realistic 8-10 year goal (assuming a $100 million investment). One caveat – from the time we decide to renovate, it will be a several year initiative. I’m talking myself in to getting antsy and wanting to get going now. I’ve sold myself and am now a proponent that indeed a major renovation is necessary and the time is now.
Rick Telander’s sixth installment of what football did to and for his teammates takes a lighter turn today featuring seemingly wealthy investor Jerry Combs. Perhaps he is a key target for renovation dollars, or perhaps he would like to invest in LTP!