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Post The hot topic today is

Sunday April 14, 2002

The hot topic today is the proposed expansion of Sanford Stadium discussed by the Athletic Board this weekend. The issue of course is how to add capacity without disrupting Sanford’s open west end and the view from the bridge on Sanford Drive. Though, as Coach Dooley says, enclosing the west end “may happen at some point,” that kind of major project should only happen when a few questions are answered:

  • Is the expansion driven by demand for renewable season tickets? It doesn’t sound like it. Part of Dooley’s justification for the current expansion is that “just from the visitors standpoint alone, there’s a lot of demand.” Building an expansion to satisfy single-game tickets and nonrenewable season tickets is also questionable. Though the added gate revenue will help, the brunt of the cost will likely be borne by the GEEF contribitors. Until the ranks of the GEEF members swell to the point where demand is edging out single-game ticket sales, pursuing a larger expansion will leave the funding for the project with uncertainty and will almost surely guarantee a less-than-capacity stadium for all but the biggest games where visitor and single-ticket demand makes up the difference.
  • Where will all those people park? President Adams says today that the University is continuing to build parking decks to handle the job. While we’ve known for some time that the master plan includes ringing the campus with additional parking decks, that’s hardly an optimal solution for a tailgating-crazy fan base.
  • What other projects will be required? A west expansion will almost surely put the capacity over 100,000. Access to the stadium and flow inside is already cramped. The ongoing work on the east access should help somewhat, but what other work to the concourses and approaches to the stadium will be required in order to handle an additional 15,000+ people?
  • What of the Tate Center? Any serious expansion to the west stands will dwarf the Tate Student Center and will present some interesting engineering challenges in order to support the upper deck. Will the student center be integrated into the expansion?

And of course there is the question of the bridge. All of these factors add up to show us that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill adding of seats and will be a major commitment of resources in order to make it happen – it could be one of the larger capital projects taken on by the Athletic Association in its history.

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