June 25, 2013
CINCINNATI - Proposed renovation and expansion plans for the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium have been formally approved by the UC Board of Trustees earlier today, director of athletics Whit Babcock announced Tuesday.
The renovation and expansion project, which is estimated to cost $80-85 million in total, will utilize private donations and premium seating revenues to fund the project over a period of years. No University general funds will be allocated.
Construction on both the west and east sides of the stadium is due to begin in December 2013 and is scheduled for completion in August 2015.
"Today is a tremendous day for Cincinnati athletics," Babcock said. "Our Board of Trustees and Dr. Ono have allowed us to move forward with our unprecedented project to Nippert Stadium and I am sincerely grateful for their leadership and vision. This transformational campaign will allow us to create critical new revenue streams to benefit all 19 sports programs through the sale of premium seating opportunities while also improving a variety of fan amenities such as concessions, restrooms, and concourse traffic flow.
"Every fan, donor, alumnus and student who attends a game beginning in 2015 will benefit from the scope of this project. This project exemplifies our desire to develop a top-notch college football gameday experience and compete with the nation's elite. We are going to enhance an already-strong home-field advantage by wrapping in the west side of the stadium. Nippert Stadium is an integral part of our brand at UC and this project should make a strong statement as to our overall direction as a department and University. Our future is bright and it's a dynamic time to be a Bearcat."
The expanded renovation focuses on both the east and west side of the stadium. On the west side, a new press box structure will be built, adding suites, scholarship club seats and patio suites/loge boxes. The west concourse will also be renovated, including concession stands and restrooms. Improvements on the east side include expanded and additional concession offerings and restroom facilities along with enhanced fan traffic flow, including the building of skywalks to connect the upper deck with the gameday brick plaza on O'Varsity Way.
"Revenue generated from this project will benefit student-athletes in each of our 19 sports," Babcock said. "This facility will also add another piece of signature architecture right in the heart of our beautiful campus."
The new West Pavilion structure will also be available for multi-purpose use on non-gamedays by various campus constituencies and athletics will partner with campus, student groups and academic units moving forward.
Design work is still ongoing and the overall stadium capacity upon completion is not finalized but it is estimated Nippert Stadium will have a capacity of approximately 40,000.
The new west-side structure will be approximately one-and-a-half stories taller than the current press box and two-and-a-half times as long. The curvature of the facility matches that of the upper deck on the east side of the stadium and contains four primary levels; a photo deck, a press and operations level, Founders Suite level and a Scholarship Club Seat / Patio Suite (loge box) level.
"I know our fans likely have questions regarding the various seating options as well as how they can participate," Babcock said. "I ask for their patience as we continue to finalize all the details regarding the protocol, timetable and communication surrounding this campaign. No one will be left without an opportunity to get involved. I would encourage all who may have an interest in these new seating opportunities to visit gobearcats.com/nippert, or call 877-55-UCATS."
Potentially, all 2014 home games would need to be moved due to construction at Nippert Stadium. Paul Brown Stadium is being considered as an alternate site during this one-year transition during the project. More information will be released as it becomes available.
"We have 26 months to get this done and we want to get it right," Babcock said. "We look forward to beginning this exciting chapter in our history and communicating with our fan and donor base regularly along the way."
Original construction began on Nippert Stadium in 1915 and was completed in 1924. UC has used the Nippert site as a playing field since 1901, making it the second-oldest playing site in the nation for college football behind Penn's Franklin Field (1895).
USA Today recently named Nippert as the best home-field venue in the former BIG EAST Conference and ESPN's Scott Van Pelt cited Nippert as a `one of the gems of college football.'
Among NCAA FBS schools, Nippert is the third-oldest stadium still in use, behind Bobby Dodd Stadium (Georgia Tech - 1913), Davis Wade Stadium (Mississippi State - 1914) and ahead of Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium, which was built in 1917.
Nippert Stadium's current press box was built in the 1980s and since its last major renovation in 1992, a minimum of 71 of the 75 BCS schools have made major renovations to their football stadiums or premium seating areas.
Babcock said updates regarding the project would be provided later this summer and periodically over the next 26 months.