UA looks at stadium expansion

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
An artist's rendering shows an aerial view of the north end zone at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium following expansion.
An artist's rendering shows an aerial view of the north end zone at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium following expansion.

— Six days into its search for a head football coach, the University of Arkansas announced Thursday plans to conduct a market and cost analysis for the expansion of Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

The expansion site under consideration is the north end zone, where the Broyles Athletic Center and jumbotron video board connect to the stadium. The north end zone work was included as part of Arkansas’ facilities master plan, a project estimated to cost $320 million and take 20 to 30 years to complete, which was released Oct. 18, 2011.

Reynolds Razorback Stadium currently seats 72,000, which puts Arkansas’ football facility 26th in the nation and ninth in the SEC in capacity.

Arkansas is scheduled to open its $35 million football operations center next year, and a potential stadium expansion could be an added lure to coaching candidates in Athletic Director Jeff Long’s search. The school also could increase revenues for home games by enhancing the north end zone with premium seating.

A university release announcing the analysis explained its purpose as determining “seating capacity, design, construction, economic variables and the demand for additional seating.”

The university will release requests for qualifications for the architect/engineer design team and for the construction manager/general contractor to conduct the analysis, according to the university release. Arkansas officials said all funding for the cost analysis and the project, if it moves forward, will come from athletic revenues and not university funds.

Should a decision be reached that expansion is viable, the project will be put before the university’s board of trustees for approval.

“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,” Long said in the release. “It is important that we continue to strive to accommodate the current and future seating demands of Razorback fans.”

The last major project at Razorback Stadium came before the 2001 season, a major expansion that enclosed the south end zone, upgraded the press box, added suites and expanded capacity from 51,000 to 72,000.

The school unveiled a newly expanded video board as part of its renovations for the 2012 season.

The north end zone project could feature a remodeling of the Broyles Athletic Center, where the Razorbacks continue to dress out for practice and games. The new operations center on the south side of the stadium will house an expansive locker room, but the Razorbacks are expected to continue running out of the “A” from the north end zone.

Sports, Pages 21 on 11/30/2012