Bryant-Denny Stadium Expansion Planned

Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore expects to oversee the expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium, home of Crimson Tide football, for a second time in four years. Moore will ask The University Board of Trustees in their meetings in Birmingham this week to approve an expansion project that will increase the capacity of the stadium to approximately 101,000.

Alabama added approximately 9,000 seats to the stadium in a 2006 renovation of the North end zone, putting capacity at 92,138. In a project that will nearly mirror the North end zone project, the South end zone will add 8,500 upper deck seats; 1,700 club seats; and 36 skyboxes.

Moore said the project was driven by extraordinary demand from Crimson Tide fans. He said some 10,000 who have not been able to get any tickets are on a waiting list. An additional 3,000 who are already receiving tickets are on a waiting list for additional tickets. As Moore pointed out, those who want tickets typically want two or four tickets, so an expansion of perhaps 30-35,000 seats is what is really needed.

Asked if that meant another addition, perhaps on the West side, might be in the offing, Moore said with a smile, "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."

In addition to the demand for tickets, Moore said, "We have received pledges for 25 of the 36 skyboxes to date, signed pledges that have made a very sizeable gift (a half million dollars) 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."

Moore said, "As for the funding for this project, the athletics 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 athletics department will fund this through ticket sales, through our ability to raise money, and through bond issues that will be coming down the way."

He said he was grateful to have Dave Hart, executive director of athletics, on board to run day-to-day operations "so I can concentrate on this project."

Assuming the Board of Trustees agrees to the project, construction will begin this spring. One of the first things to happen will be dismantling of the large scoreboard and Jumbotron in the South end zone. When the project is completed prior to the 2010 season, there will be new corner video scoreboards as in the North end zone corners and additional ribbon scoreboards.

Although there was no discussion of the 2010 football schedule, there have been reliable reports that the first Tuscaloosa football game in 2010 will be on September 4 against Penn State.

Moore said he had been in "hard discussions" for the past year with members of the Board of Trustees, University President Dr. Robert E. Witt, and University Vice President for Financial Affairs Dr. Lynda Gilbert. He said the athletics department had been working on the project in anticipation of eventually getting approval of the Board of Trustees. Davis Architects of Birmingham in coordination with HOK Sports Architects of Kansas City will coordinate design of the project.

In addition to seats, the project calls for "a preservation of the existing structure and enhancements that will improve game day experience for all of our fans." It will also include new offices for the fund-raising arms of the athletics department, the Crimson Tide Foundation, and the development staff; and a food market and merchandise store on ground level on Bryant Drive.

Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban is preparing for Wednesday's Signing Day and adding players who will spend most of their college careers in the expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saban said, "This is yet another very positive sign of the momentum and vision that the entire University of Alabama community shares. We are very optimistic that this expansion will make Bryant-Denny Stadium one of the finest facilities in the country and give our fans an even greater venue to continue their positive support of our team. The leadership and support of Dr. Witt and Mal Moore is indicative of the dynamic period of growth and success we are experiencing."

It is reasonable to assume that prospects have known of this project throughout the recruiting period.

In the current economic climate, Moore sees the project as a triple win. It helps the local economy, it adds to the most important source of income for the athletics department, and it could prove a bargain time to be building.

"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," he said. "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 also help and support our athletics 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."

He noted that when the previous addition was bid, many construction companies were unable to consider the project because there was a building boom everywhere. Now jobs are more dear.

The project may prove a boon to students. Moore said, "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 on to this stadium."

Moore said, "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."

Moore said there would not involve the loss of many seats during construction (perhaps none) and that most construction would be done after the completion of the 2009 season.

Plans have not been finalized for ticket distribution in the new South end zone addition. It will be dedicated to students, faculty, and staff; Tide Pride members; and former Alabama lettermen.

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