Bryant-Denny expansion heads for vote

Alabama’s board of trustees will vote later this week on the expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium to a capacity of about 101,000. The South End Zone expansion will add over 9,000 seats to the stadium and should be ready for the 2010 season, Alabama’s Athletic Director Mal Moore said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. The text of his press conference is below.

Athletic Director Mal Moore
Opening Statement:
“Let me say that I appreciate you joining us this afternoon. I’d like to take just a minute of your time and share with you the news that after more than a year of hard discussions with our President, Dr. Witt, our Vice President for Financial Affairs, Dr. Linda Gilbert, and the Board of Trustees I will formally request for approval from the Board of Trustees a plan for the expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium. The south end zone, a project that will add more than 9,000 seats to the stadium’s capacity. Pending the board’s approval, the stadium expansion project will include a preservation of the existing structure and enhancements that will improve game day experience for all of our fans.”

“Improvements will include 8,000 upper deck seats, 1,700 south zone level seats, 36 new skyboxes and two new video corner scoreboards. This will increase the seating capacity of Bryant-Denny Stadium to approximately 101,000. The project will include new offices for our Crimson Tide Foundation and for our development staff, which is desperately needed, and this will certainly make a difference in their efforts in raising and securing money for the athletic department and the University for years to come.”

“We have had an unbelievable demand for tickets in the past couple of years. We have over 10,000 on the waiting list for tickets for people that absolutely do not have a ticket. You have to figure that each of these would buy two, possibly three, possibly four tickets. This says that we could actually use 30,000-35,000 additional seats. We have unbelievable fans, great fans that support this athletic department, support this University. We have received pledges for 25 of the 36 skyboxes to date, signed pledges that have made a very sizeable gift in order to get on the list for a skybox. We’re proud of the support that our alumni and our fans have given throughout the years, but this is one thing that says we need to enlarge the stadium because of the demand we are receiving from fans, visitors, and people that have supported us through the years.”

“We need more seats for our students. The President has grown the University. We’ve broken enrollment records for five straight years. There’s more demand, more need for student tickets, so this is another reason why we need to build this stadium.”

“As for the funding for this project, the athletic department has always been self supporting. We do not use – and never have used – state tax money or money from the University itself, so the athletic department will fund this through ticket sales, through our ability to raise money and through bond issues that will be coming down the way.”

“The economic impact of Alabama football on the economy in this area is over $15 million for the Tuscaloosa area, Tuscaloosa/Northport, the county of Tuscaloosa. Each game that is played here generates over $15 million in tax revenue and money spent in this area. This will increase by adding the south end zone, approximately $1.5 million to that total. So the timing of building this, I think, will make a difference in the economy here in this area with jobs that are desperately needed. It will help in that area. It will also help and support our athletic department. This is a good time to build this stadium simply because of the need for work. We’ll have several companies that will bid and make a run at this job. It’s a good time for us and it’s a good time for us to support the economy.”

“If the board of trustees approves the project, Davis Architects of Birmingham will handle the south end zone in consultation with HOK of Kansas City. The north end zone was in conjunction with HOK and Davis Architects. We’re really just turning this around and building the same look in the south. So, if you’re standing on the 50-yard line and you look south, you look north, they will be identical. An upper deck, two levels of skyboxes, a Zone like what we’re in here will all be in the south. We’re looking forward to this; it will be a great addition to this stadium and something that we’ll be very proud of in years to come. And, as the university grows, it will be something that will be desperately needed and will make a difference.”

Why expand now?
“Well, I think that at one time we were wrestling with our plan to build it. The biggest thing that says to us and has said all along is pretty much what I just covered with the demand for tickets. The waiting list that we have is over 10,000 for tickets for people that absolutely don’t have a ticket. Then we have over 3,000 on a waiting list of people that have tickets and would like to buy more. We think the base is sound there and the demand for the skyboxes is there. We’re asking a half a million dollars pledge [for skyboxes]. We have 25 of those sold so that gives us a good basis to move forward.”

Did this expansion happen so soon because of the excitement about Coach Saban?
“There’s no question that the success of the team this past year, the excitement of Coach Saban coming in, then the success of this team the past year, has made a difference in our decision and helped push that forward and I think that’s part of the demand for the tickets.”

Is there is a timetable to finish the expansion?
“We’re set with a timetable because we’ve been working on this for over a year from the athletic side to prepare and be ready when the board gives us permission. So we will start immediately. We’ll let the bids on the stadium in and when those are back we’ll be underway with it. We have a timetable and we plan to have this completed by the opening game of the 2010 season.”

Is there a possibility of expanding the West stands again after the South end zone project is completed?
“I haven’t thought past this south end zone. If we can get that done, I’ll be a proud man. That is a possibility, though.”

When is the Board going to discuss this proposal?
“There’s a Board of Trustees meeting this Thursday and Friday in Birmingham. It’s on the agenda.”

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