ASU group to study athletic facility upgrades
Arizona State University President Michael Crow has appointed a committee of senior ASU administrators to evaluate proposals and options to upgrade its athletic facilities as part of its long-range comprehensive facilities planning effort.
Although the committee starts without predetermined priorities and will consider all of the university’s athletic facilities for the 22 varsity teams, immediate attention is likely to be paid to proposals for maintaining and upgrading Sun Devil Stadium.
A new men’s and women’s basketball practice facility and a new field house that would double as an indoor football practice facility also will be on the agenda.
This effort is the next step of a long-range (20- to 30-year) Comprehensive Development Plan process, including academic and non-academic facilities that began in 2003 and that estimated ASU’s long-term renovation, construction and expansion needs for all facilities would total $3.4 billion. (The Comprehensive Development Plan can be viewed at http://asu.edu/cdp.)
The Sun Devil District, which includes the football stadium, arena, baseball and softball facilities, and pool on the north side of campus, is one of the districts outlined in the plan as needing additional analysis and planning. Other districts include academic, student life and support, and public venue districts. Enhanced sports facilities would attract more student-athletes to ASU and improve team competitiveness, enhance the sense of campus community and bring more amateur athletic events to Tempe.
In just the last few years, through a variety of funding sources – state and municipal funding, private donations and corporate partnerships – ASU has added new academic and administrative buildings, and 1 million square feet of research space, at its Tempe and Polytechnic campuses; new residence halls at its Tempe and West campuses; and a new campus in downtown Phoenix.
The original stadium was built in 1958, with several substantial additions made from 1971 through 1992. Since 2002, the university has invested $136 million in facility renovations. Since 2005, ASU also has invested $10.8 million into Sun Devil Stadium, including repairing the main concourse and loge level, waterproofing parts of the structure, repairing tripping hazards and fixing rust problems on steel beams.
The possible upgrading of Sun Devil Stadium can be divided into three categories:
• Lifecycle extension – Two engineering firms have done an analysis of Sun Devil Stadium, and both conclude that, to extend the life of Sun Devil Stadium beyond its estimated useful life of a few more decades, substantial additional investments need to be made.
• Improvements – These would include replacing the existing electrical and plumbing systems, building better restrooms, and better and more fan-friendly concession stands.
• The “wish list” – A range of enhancements could include widening seats, in addition to enclosing and air-conditioning loge boxes.
Depending on what ultimately is recommended, the estimated cost of the Sun Devil Stadium work ranges between $52 million and $150 million. Even the high estimate is considerably less than the value of Sun Devil Stadium ($260 million) and the $288 million cost of the new University of Minnesota stadium.
Any work done on Sun Devil Stadium would be performed during the offseason over a period of five years or longer, so the team could continue to play in the stadium during construction.
ASU officials said they are exploring a variety of funding possibilities including private contributions and corporate sponsorships, and additional revenue generating events in the stadium. University officials have been speaking with the leadership of Tempe to explore possible partnerships with the city.
To help fund projects involving athletic facilities, ASU two weeks ago launched the Sun Devil Legacy Campaign, which already has 16 pledged gifts totaling $13.5 million. Specifically, the gifts are earmarked as follows:
• $7,842,500 for a men’s and women’s basketball practice facility.
• $5,392,500 for a field house that also would serve as an indoor football practice facility.
• $250,000 to upgrade Packard Stadium.