The case to expand Bryant-Denny now

While Dr. Robert Witt’s economic analysis turned out to be prophetic (who knew that hallowed Bear Stearns was on such shaky ground?), there has never been a better time to expand Bryant Denny stadium.

The reasons for expansion are both economic and athletic. It just makes good sense to do it now. Here’s why.

1. If the economy is going into a recession, then a massive building project spending several hundred million dollars would boost the economy. The construction would create jobs for a host of persons, and would inject needed dollars into the local economy. The University is an economic engine for Tuscaloosa; it must always remember that. When you think about how important a role UA plays in the region, the university has a duty to spur the economy.

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2. The cost is only going to rise. Steel prices have soared due to demand in Asia, and other developing countries. But it isn’t just steel soaring. All commodities are going up: Coal, metals, everything. You need coal and a host of other resources to make steel. With the surge in oil prices, it will cost more to deliver commodities to steel plants, and get steel delivered to construction sites. In other words, the situation is such that steel prices, and other construction based commodities should remain high or rise in the coming decade. Any delay in expansion will only increase the cost. Building it today is just cheaper than building it tomorrow.

3. The demand and excitement over UA football is at a high. While the waiting list grows, and the prices just keep going up, the average fan has little hope of getting into the stadium. More seats should meet the demand with little shock to the ticket buyer. In fact, it should help control ticket costs—perhaps stabilizing them enough to allow average fans to one day be able to afford tickets. That is not guaranteed; however, I can guarantee without an expansion the demand will only drive prices higher and higher in the next decade.

There can be no doubt the positives from expanding the stadium. Nick Saban has said fans play an important role in creating the positive environment necessary for success. He attributed recruiting success to the A-Day excitement from 2007—it was partially responsible for positive buzz from recruits.

Having more fans at A-Day and attending football games would only increase the positives. Who knows, maybe with more and louder fans the University could once again have a home field advantage.

It just makes economic and football sense to expand the stadium now. In fact, it is almost a moral obligation to do it now—it would save money and help the local economy. Dr. Witt, build that expansion.

5 Comments

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  1. 1
    Daddio

    The logic you are applying for building now is sound. Choosing to spend anticipated future dollars now is risky. How will a recession affect enrollment? We can’t be sure. How about fuel costs? These are unknowns and it’s great to be optimistic about the future (where these dollars will come from), there may be too much risk.
    The main factor to consider will be (and I hate to go here) future success of the football program. Coleman was renovated but now it is up to gymnastics to carry the load to pay for that, and that’s just not feasible. The basketball program is not doing it’s part. Maybe they can rent it out for concerts!
    Although things look bright for the football program, none of this equates to on-the-field reality. The staff has yet to prove it can produce a winner in spite of all the optimism. The administration may be waiting for that proof before they move on spending any more money!

  2. 4
    CJackson

    I would love to see Bryant-Denny expanded to over 100,000, but Dr. Witt’s decision to postpone the expansion is probably correct. Yes there are lots of benefits to expanding the south endzone, but it is really a chicken and egg problem.
    The project will require several million in donations, but with the severe economic pains in the financial sector, blue chip Bama alums don’t have as much disposable cash to donate. Plus, Bama has just wrapped up a couple of big academic fund raising drives, and many Bama alums are maxed out for the time being. I don’t think that capital is there to get the construction started. Hopefully the economy will be stronger this time next year and the expansion will start sooner rather than later.

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