The Big House will be adding a second deck to one of the end zone seating sections, in addition to the current renovations, if approved by the University Board of Regents this summer.
Current renovations have cost the stadium 4,868 seats because of the addition of 5,632 seats in luxury boxes and other areas of the stadium. The second deck will compensate for the loss in seating capacity due to the renovations, said Michael Stevenson, executive director of athletics.
Stevenson said that there has been incredible support from fans, who think that maintaining the stadium’s status as the largest venue in terms of seating in the nation is important.
“We’ve gotten approximately 200 e-mails from fans, and 99 percent of those e-mails we’ve gotten have been supportive of the expansion and renovations that we’re talking about,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said that fans told him that whatever is done to the stadium, it cannot be smaller than it currently is.
“We’ve got the largest stadium in the country,” Stevenson said. “Our fans take great pride in (that and) they don’t want us to do anything that would diminish that.”
Despite the unknown cost of the project, raising money for the renovations was not a major concern to Stevenson. Revenue from football tickets will go toward the cost of the renovations and the future additions to the end zone, Stevenson said.
In response to concerns that the stadium will loose its traditional, symmetrical look, Stevenson said that the proposed addition will be attractive and traditional.
“We believe it will be a very clean look, and there will be symmetry,” Stevenson said. “There is the option of filling in the other (end zone) at some point for additional seating.”
The reaction from some students has been positive.
Tom Rainwater, a graduate of the engineering school, said that renovations could get more fans into the stadium, and in effect, generate more revenue. Rainwater said the great thing about the stadium is that it does not look large from outside but sweeps people in once they enter
“I think the reason its got that allure is because it seems like a small stadium,” he said.
Rainwater added that the expansion to an end zone may help the stadium keep the title as largest stadium in the U.S. but the expansion could ruin the stadium in the process.
Kinesiology junior Eric Kruske said he also supported expansion.
“If we call it the Big House they should keep adding on seats — the Big House has always been see as the biggest stadium,” he said.
Kruske said that extra seating would add to the aura that the Big House has.
“I think it will add to the atmosphere. Regardless of how many seats the Big House is great because of our alumni and fans,” Kruske said.
Stevenson admitted that no plans have been finalized, but said he has great confidence that the Regents will confirm the plans in their July or September’s meeting.