Football stadium renovations hot topic at Alden Q&A

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | 9:45 p.m. CDT; updated 11:09 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 24, 2009
Missouri Director of Athletics Mike Alden addressed various topics Wednesday during a Q&A session at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

COLUMBIA — MU Director of Athletics Mike Alden shared his vision for the future of Memorial Stadium on Wednesday night. And while he stressed that the talk of future renovation was not yet a plan, he had plenty of details about its potential.

By enclosing the south end zone from the corner of the press box to the student section with seats and adding suites to the east side of the field, Alden said that the stadium’s capacity would increase to 81,000.

“It’s really important it gets over the number eight,” he said. “It has to go over eight.”

Alden was speaking in an open forum question and answer session hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists. Questions from journalists, students, fans and every combination of the three kept him talking about a wide variety of topics, including the potential renovations to Missouri’s football stadium.

Currently, 71,400 people can squeeze into Memorial Stadium, the fifth highest amount among stadiums in the Big 12 Conference. By adding the end zone seats, the venue would be transformed into a “true horseshoe” highlighting the new $3.5 million scoreboard, Alden said. He added that the quality of the view from the end zone would be better than people expect because of the high-definition screen straight ahead.

In order to make those renovations possible Alden said that football game attendance would have to average between 62,000 and 65,000 for five years. The crowd has been in that range for the past two years.

“There are a lot of dominoes that would have to fall,” Alden said. “That’s a vision not a plan.”

The vision would cost $50 million that Alden said would have to be borrowed. The university is currently 15 years into a $30 million mortgage that provided money for previous renovations to the stadium. Within the next three years, the athletic department plans to start paying for that bill rather than the school.

Renovating Memorial Stadium might hinge on the decision that comes this December on the location of a new practice facility for the gymnastics team and spirit group Golden Girls.

As of now, three different locations are being looked at for the $3.5 million dollar building, according to a Missourian report. The options include the Amphitheater at Mizzou just south of Memorial Stadium; an area farther south where athletics parking Lot G and a maintenance shed are located; and athletics parking Lot K south of Hearnes Center.

Alden said Wednesday that the location of the new practice facility would have to be congruent with the “master plan.” Deciding to put the facility just south of Memorial Stadium could show that renovations to the football stadium are unlikely, but a farther location keeps the vision possible.


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