At the university's board of trustees athletic committee meeting, Auburn officials heard a very encouraging report from Jerry Smith of the J.L. Smith group. His firm was hired to do a Capital Campaign Feasibility Study to see how much money the athletic department could expect to raise from a campaign to acquire funds for a variety of projects.
Smith forecast that such a fund drive would raise at least $80 million and could possibly go higher than that. The athletic department has a projected $75 million wish list that includes $40.5 million for new facilities, $25 million for endowments of athletic scholarships and coaching positions and $9.5 million for facility upgrades.
"We had been thinking in terms of 70 million dollars to 75 million," Athletic Director David Housel told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "We intend to go for $90 million. Auburn has big dreams. Auburn has big responsibilities. Auburn has has great opportunities. We intend to live up to those dreams and meet those opportunities and challenges."
Four of the major projects for the capital campaign are a new 100-yard indoor football practice facility, a new track and field, a new indoor tennis facility and a state-of-the-art academic support center for athletes. A planned expansion to Jordan-Hare Stadium could be a part of the campaign, too. Because that expansion will include several thousand premium seats, that project could pay for itself.
Football coach Tommy Tuberville said, "I don't think there is any doubt that a full-length, indoor workout area would be very appropriate matched with our weight room. Stadium expansion is only necessary if you have an opportunity to put people in the stands. Some people sometimes build it for recruiting, but I think we are at the point with 87,000 that is probably significant for us to recruit, but we do need extra seating.
"We need scholarship seating," Tuberville added. "We need more skyboxes. We need an area where we can generate more revenue. Our athletic budget goes up more every year and Jordan-Hare Stadium is our cash cow, so to speak. That is where you raise most of your money, other than the donations. We don't spend any tax money, of course. Somebody told me we need about 3,000 more premium seats and that generates tons of money."
A new indoor football facility could go where Wilbur Hutsell Track is located. That facility is in need of major repairs. The current plans are to relocate the track. Several sites are being considered, including the location of the current intramural fields and a plot of land south of the soccer field.