UA moving forward with expansion plans
While the search for a new football coach continues, the University of Arkansas issued a request Thursday for contractors and architects to submit proposals as part of a cost analysis project to expand Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The analysis will "specifically examine the variables associated with an expansion such as seating capacity, design, construction, economic variables and the demand for additional seating, all of which should be studied when considering a stadium expansion," according to a release. Arkansas is looking to expand seating to the north end zone of the stadium, adjacent to the Broyles Athletic Center.
UA athletics director Jeff Long said last October the expansion would add around 5,000 seats and would cost between $75 million and $95 million. Approval for any building projects must be granted by the university's board of trustees.
"It is important we have sound information from which to make a decision," Long said. "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. It is important that we continue to strive to accommodate the current and future seating demands of Razorback fans."
Arkansas' last renovation expanded the stadium's capacity to 72,000 seats in 2001, adding chairback seats and suites to the south end zone, along with a second level to the east side. A long-term facilities master plan released last October called for the addition of luxury suites and club seats to the stadium's north end zone, which currently has no seating.
New football practice fields, which cost around $5 million, and a new soccer clubhouse have already been built as part of the facilities master plan. An estimated $35 million football operations center is scheduled to be completed next summer.
Last year, Long and former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino said the additions to the program were needed to keep up with like building at other Southeastern Conference schools. Petrino's on-field success helped the Razorbacks' football program boost its value to $89 million - the eight-highest nationally according to Forbes in 2011 - prior to his firing in April for misconduct.
Other approvals have been made to build a multi-purpose indoor facility for baseball and track, a basketball practice facility and an academic center and dining hall for athletes. All projects approved as part of the plan are being paid for in bonds to be reimbursed by donations made to The Razorback Foundation, Inc., the fundraising arm for UA athletics.
The total cost of the 30-year facilities plan has an estimated price tag of $320 million.
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