Univ. of Minnesota AD Norwood Teague yesterday unveiled a $190M athletic facilities master plan, “surprising observers with the size, scope and cost of a project that will affect every university sport,” according to a front-page piece by Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Teague offered a “relatively brief timeline to complete the project and said the athletic department intends to foot the entire bill through fundraising.” The plan “encompasses a football training complex, a men’s and women’s basketball practice facility, an academic center, a training table for dining, a women’s gymnastics facility, an Olympic sport indoor practice facility, an outdoor Olympic sport track and a wrestling training facility -- all of it housed on the athletic department’s current footprint.” The Bierman Athletic Building “will be torn down to accommodate the plans, and the current track will be moved to a new location, with the basketball practice facility landing where the track and a parking lot currently sit.” The facilities “would be grouped together to create a home base of sorts for student athletes.” Rayno writes the “trick will be finding the money to make it all happen.” Teague in the months before this plan was announced estimated that the cost “could be between" $80-125M. Teague “lauded the state’s fundraising potential and said the hope was to finance the entire project privately.” He said that there was “no figure yet available on funds committed,” nor does the department “currently have a lead donor” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/11).
PICKING UP THE PACE: In St. Paul, Marcus Fuller notes UM in the past has “tried to tackle one project at a time.” Williams Arena upgrades “would not be included in the first phase.” Phase two improvements “would be to the arena's concourse and would not alter the inner bowl of seats.” There are “no plans to expand the seating capacity of 14,625.” Architectural firm Populous was “hired in October to develop the master facilities plan for the entire athletic department” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/11). In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman notes there are “rumors on campus this week" that the goal raising over $7M "before building a new basketball practice facility has been reached, but no announcement on that was made” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/11).
The Lexington Center Corporation (LCC) BOD yesterday named Seattle-based architectural firm NBBJ to "design the Rupp Arena renovation, as well as the new Lexington Convention Center," according to a front-page piece by Tipton & Warren of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. The BOD also picked Indianapolis-based Hunt Construction, "the company that completed Rupp Arena back in 1976," to perform the actual renovation work. Lexington-based Able Construction and Indianapolis-based Finch Constructors "will assist Hunt." Rupp District Project Dir Frank Butler said that officials "hope to have conceptual drawings of the project by early October." Initial "schematic plans and cost estimates are expected by Nov. 1." Previous cost projections have "put the convention center rebuild at $110 million, with the Rupp renovation costing" $140-150M. While Univ. of Kentucky officials have "pledged to be partners in the Rupp renovation, they have contended that state dollars for campus construction should take precedence over Rupp." Groundbreaking ceremonies are "scheduled for the fall of 2014, if advance work goes smoothly." LCC BOD Chair Brent Rice yesterday said that the project could "be built in two years, without disrupting ball games or other events." NBBJ also designed the $136M renovation of UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. The LCC noted how a "'revitalized' Rupp will have private suites, a new scoreboard hanging above center court, and chair-back seats throughout the upper as well as lower levels." As for fundraising, CSL Int'l President Bill Rhoda said that his company has "studied the number of suites, loge boxes and clubs that could go inside the arena" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 7/11).
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: In Louisville, John Karman reported a financing plan for the redevelopment of Rupp Arena and the Lexington Convention Center "should be released in 30 to 45 days." Rice said that 14 possible "revenue sources currently are being studied, including the sale of Rupp naming rights." A request for proposals was "issued July 1, seeking naming rights for the Lexington Convention Center." Rice said that the financing plan is "expected to include city and state participation" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/10).
Browns CEO Joe Banner and VP/Fan Experience & Marketing Kevin Griffin have been busy this offseason "repairing a game day experience" at FirstEnergy Stadium that was "antiquated, unexciting, and uninspiring," according to Will Burge of ESPN CLEVELAND. A source said that the Browns have a "laundry list of changes in store" for fans. Fan Night at FirstEnergy Stadium will be "held on August 3rd this year and will allow fans to come and watch a Browns inter-squad scrimmage free of charge." The team has spent money to "make room for an inside pregame tailgate experience." The pre- and in-game music will "be upgraded." The "most noticeable change will be the player introductions." The team this year will "have flames, pyrotechnics, and smoke when the Browns players are introduced." The team also "decided it needed a pre-introduction hype video similar to what the Cavs do at Quicken Loans Arena." There "will not be cheerleaders on the Browns’ sidelines." However, there "is a drum line." The "goal of the organization is to make that drum line all female as somewhat of a compromise to those who wanted a skirt wearing spirit squad." There also will be wiener dog races as Griffin worked with the Seahawks and MLS Sounders and these were a "hit with the crowds" (ESPNCLEVELAND.com, 7/9).
CULTURE CHANGE: Browns Radio Daily Senior Editor Vic Carucci discussed the new Browns regime under Owner Jimmy Haslam III and said, "It’s definitely brought about a refreshed perspective of what it takes to connect with the fans and the whole fan experience, which is what we’re a part of." Carucci: "What I’ve appreciated about it more than anything is the change. ... It has been 'bigger, better, more' versus 'okay let’s cut back on this or be more conservative with this or do less of this.' I thought we were doing a lot before the change in ownership and administration, and what I’ve come to realize is that there’s so much more that we could be doing and are doing now" (Jillian Fay, Staff Writer).