Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A two-time graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
UA exploring cost analysis for stadium expansion
An artist's rendering shows potential expansion to the north end zone at Donald. W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
FAYETTEVILLE While the search for a new football coach continues, the University of Arkansas issued a request Thursday for contractors and architects to submit proposals as part of a cost analysis project to expand Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The analysis will "specifically examine the variables associated with an expansion such as seating capacity, design, construction, economic variables and the demand for additional seating, all of which should be studied when considering a stadium expansion," according to a release. Arkansas is looking to expand seating to the north end zone of the stadium, adjacent to the Broyles Athletic Center.
The deadline for architects and contractors to submit their qualifications form is Dec. 12.
UA athletics director Jeff Long said last October the expansion would add around 5,000 seats and would cost between $78 million and $95 million. Approval for any building projects must be granted by the university's board of trustees.
According to a request for qualifications, the analysis will define the number and type of seats, more certainty on the timing of the project and how it will affect home football games during its construction. "Localized renovation" to the Broyles Athletic Center might also be necessary, according to the document.
“It is important we have sound information from which to make a decision,” Long said. “The analysis will help us have a clearer understanding of the many variables that must be thoroughly examined before making a decision to move forward. It is important that we continue to strive to accommodate the current and future seating demands of Razorback fans.”
Arkansas' last renovation expanded the stadium's capacity to 72,000 seats in 2001, adding chairback seats and suites to the south end zone, along with a second level of bleachers to the east side. A long-term facilities master plan released last October called for the addition of luxury suites - including field level suites - and club seats to the stadium's north side, which currently has no seating.
"Additional standard seating" may also be available, according to the plan, which could include as many as three levels of seats.
The expansion would also include new concourses and entrances to the stadium, which was built in 1939. The expansion calls for the potential building of a north end zone plaza, connecting the east and west sides of the stadium.
New football practice fields, which cost around $5 million, and a new soccer clubhouse have already been built as part of the facilities master plan. An estimated $35 million football operations center is scheduled to be completed next summer.
Last year, Long and former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino said the additions to the program were needed to keep up with like building at other Southeastern Conference schools. Petrino's on-field success helped the Razorbacks' football program boost its value to $89 million - the eight-highest nationally according to Forbes in 2011 - prior to his firing in April for misconduct.
Other approvals have been made to build a multi-purpose indoor facility for baseball and track, a basketball practice facility and an academic center and dining hall for athletes. All projects approved as part of the plan are being paid for in bonds to be reimbursed by donations made to The Razorback Foundation, Inc., the fundraising arm for UA athletics.
The total cost of the 30-year facilities plan has an estimated price tag of $320 million.