Razorback Stadium going uptown

Broyles hopes proposed plans put UA among elite

NATE ALLEN
Log Cabin Correspondent
Published Thursday, August 05, 1999

FAYETTEVILLE -- Razorback Stadium will be a different place in 2000, University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles promised Wednesday.

At a news conference Broyles said the proposed renovation more resembles a new stadium.

"This is a landmark occasion for the Razorback football program,'' said Broyles in his 41st UA year as either AD, head football coach or both. "I have to pinch myself. I wake up at 4 in the morning wondering if I am dreaming that we are gonna have something like this in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

"Going to a football game in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is going to be an experience at a new level. We want the fans of Arkansas alerted that is going to be something special, that it will be at the caliber of Bud Walton Arena, Charlie Baum Stadium and the Randal Tyson Track.''

Walton Arena for basketball and Baum Stadium for baseball are considered without peer in college sports. The under-construction Randal Tyson Indoor Track near Baum Stadium will house the 2000 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Broyles and architects Steve Cash of the Heery Co. of Atlanta and Richard Alderman of the Wittenberg, DeLoney and Davidson architecture firm of Fayetteville explained plans expanding Razorback Stadium from 47,000 to 70,000 for the 2000 season. There's a goal of 78,000 to 80,000 capacity. Plans include adding sky boxes and installing a stadium club and club level seating that ultimately will benefit all Razorback fans, they said.

Broyles said he believed 15 years ago that Arkansas could never win a national football championship until it significantly upgraded its on-campus stadium. Recruits compare facilities, and Razorback Stadium has been "inferior'' to most facilities of the UA's recruiting competitors, Broyles said. He said the success that coach Houston Nutt achieved with a 9-3 SEC West co-championship season in '98 sparked plans to embark on a project Broyles estimates will cost $65 million to bring the stadium to 70,000. Another $10 million will be required, Broyles estimates, whenever capacity is upped to 80,000.

"Houston has changed the attitude of our football team and fans,'' Broyles said. "We've got momentum, a lot of momentum. And it's the athletic department's responsibility to keep that momentum going."

Cash, a UA grad, said, "We're trying to take this existing stadium and develop it into a whole building, like we were building it from scratch.''

Cash and the Heery firm have worked on major stadium expansion projects at the universities of Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Virginia. Cash said Arkansas' plans, particularly for the south end zone, are the most ambitious of all.

"There's not any university doing what we're doing with chair seats in the south end zone,'' Cash said. "That's unique. The best seats and the best amenities of any end zone that we've worked on.They will be the best in the business. We're not building bleachers but really nice chair seats that will be close to the field.''

When the Hogs kick off their 2000 season, the renovation projects for the east grandstand and south end zone will be completed to bring the capacity to 70,000, Broyles and the architects asserted.

Plans for the east side include a renovated concourse, new toilets, new concession stands and a new entrance off Stadium Drive.

The main component of the east grandstand has three club levels, Cash said.

The first level is the academic center on the south part of the east grandstand. That same level includes exterior club seating, where fans will sit outside but have access to the stadium club, with 1,500 exterior club seats.

The next level is interior club seating enclosed by glass, with approximately 2,000 seats that will open to a club area the length of the field.

The next level will be suites with a glass window that can be adjusted for weather.

The south end zone includes a bank chair seats at field level and bank of chair seats a level above. The south end zone also has a large chair-seat area glass enclosed .

Between the sky boxes and the stadium club, no stadium will boast more luxury, Broyles said.

"This is not elitist only,'' Broyles said. "The premium seats are to finance all the seats and upgrade the stadium. So everybody is going to benefit from the premium seats. They are going to have better amenities. ... We are going from 47,000 to 80,000 so we'll add 10,000 premium seats and 20,000 for the general public. We think that's a good mix.''

He said the school will be in a fund-raising mode since the athletic department has enough to money to start the $65 million project but not to finish it. He said it must be done wihtout state help.