SBD/May 2, 2013/Facilities

Texas A&M Approves $450M Kyle Field Renovation, Making It Largest Stadium In SEC

Construction on Kyle Field will begin in November and conclude in August '15
The Texas A&M Univ. Board of Regents yesterday approved a $450M renovation to Kyle Field that will "increase the stadium's capacity to 102,500," making it the biggest stadium in the SEC, according to a front-page piece by David Harris of the Bryan-College Station EAGLE. Kyle Field's new capacity will top the Univ. of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium by "only 45 seats," and will surpass the Univ. of Texas' Memorial Stadium "by more than 2,000 seats." The construction will begin in November and "come to a close in August 2015, only including two phases." The upgrades will include the "construction of 'Kyle Field Park' on the north side exterior to serve as a pre- and post-game gathering place," and a "west side entrance into 'Champions Hall,' a three-story merchandising and concessions area." Also included is the addition of "twelve Founders' Suites on the west side that will feature high-end finishes, 20 seats and an exclusive lounge area." If funding is secured, there would be "three maroon lights on each corner (for a total of 12) that would light up after victories." There will be a "club on the second deck of the west side that goes from goal line to goal line to service club seating," plus a "lowering of the field and movement of seating close to the action to enhance the noise level." Populous Senior Principal Earl Santee, whose company is handling the renovation, said that he "doesn't want to interfere with the experience at Kyle Field during the 2014 season." He added that "no new parking would be added near the facility." However, Texas A&M AD Eric Hyman said that once the Kyle Field makeover is completed, attention will be "devoted to getting some new areas for consumers to park on game day." He added that capacity will "actually be larger -- closer to 106,000 -- during the 2014 season than after the grand opening because the south side of the stadium will be constructed first" (Bryan-College Station EAGLE, 5/2).

TOP 10 COLLEGE FOOTBALL STADIUMS BY CAPACITY
(FOLLOWING TEXAS A&M RENOVATIONS)
RANK
SCHOOL VENUE
CAPACITY
1
Michigan Michigan Stadium
109,901
2
Penn State Beaver Stadium
106,572
3
Texas A&M Kyle Field
102,500
4
Tennessee Neyland Stadium
102,455
5
Ohio State Ohio Stadium
102,329
6
Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium
101,821
7
Texas Darrell K. Royal Stadium
100,119
8
UCLA Rose Bowl
94,392
9
USC L.A. Memorial Coliseum
93,607
10
Georgia Sanford Stadium
92,746
       

ARMS RACE IN TEXAS: In Austin, Suzanne Halliburton writes A&M is "following a recent, furious trend as universities around the state build new stadiums or do extensive renovations on venues originally built decades before." Baylor Univ. and the Univ. of Houston are "in the midst of building new stadiums," and TCU's Amon Carter Stadium "underwent a huge renovation in time for the Horned Frogs' season premiere season in the Big 12." UT's Royal-Memorial Stadium has "added 26,000 seats since the Big 12 premiere in 1996," including the expansion to 100,119 seats in '09. Texas Tech's last "wave of construction came in 2009," while North Texas in '11 "opened a new stadium." SMU built a new, on-campus stadium in '00 (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 5/2). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote of A&M's expansion plan, "This is insane to spend this much money on a venue that is used six times a year. Maybe eight." But it also is "completely consistent with the rest of the great state [of] Texas, and the United States" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 5/1). ESPN’s Danny Kanell said, “This stadium is a case of keeping up with the Joneses. They want to make sure they can fit in with the SEC” (“College Football Live,” ESPN, 5/1).

FEEDING A GROWING BEAST: In Dallas, Kate Hairopoulos notes A&M officials yesterday "cited the school’s growing alumni base as a reason for expanding to more than 100,000, from Kyle’s current 82,589 capacity." Hyman: "If you look at the growth of Texas A&M and what the future has in store, this is a facility that has an ability to meet our needs. It’s a facility we’ll grow into eventually" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/2). But in Texas, Robert Cessna writes for A&M the "challenge is maintaining a program good enough to annually demand that many seats." Heisman Trophy-winning QB Johnny Manziel's "exploits," A&M's move to the SEC and an 11-2 record under first-year coach Kevin Sumlin likely "factored in to the decision to add roughly 20,000 more seats." Cessna: "You have to go back only a couple of years when -- other than the Texas game -- sellouts were few and far between" (AGGIESPORTS.com, 5/2).
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