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A&M Might Build A New Stadium Due To SEC Move

Kyle Field is considered one of the best places to watch a college football game in America.  But it might be on the way out.

Aggie president R. Bowen Loftin has announced that the school’s move to the SEC “has created a tremendous amount of excitement around Texas A&M, and we are seeing an unprecedented demand for football season tickets.”  That has led A&M to begin a study of ways to expand, improve or perhaps even replace Kyle Field. 

According to a university press release:


“The design study phase will explore various design options for Kyle Field, including plans for both a renovated stadium and a new stadium.  The result of the study will provide Texas A&M and 12th Man Foundation officials with multiple design options for the future of the 83,002-seat stadium and will address stating of construction, preliminary cost estimating and construction timelines.”


Whoa, pardner.  A&M might be wise to slow down the expansion train for just a second.

First — like a restaurant just opening its doors — A&M should expect early response to its SEC move to be good.  The trick is getting people to come back again and again.  If Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies have success, that should happen.  If A&M fans see they can succeed in the SEC, that should happen.  But there are no guarantees that either of those things will indeed happen.  If the Aggies struggle upon entering the SEC, there could be a lot more empty seats at Kyle Field (or “New” Kyle Field).

Second — at a time when most people are talking about declining attendance at sporting events across the country, it’s probably not the best moment to be looking to expand a facility that already seats 82,000.  We’re not talking about Missouri’s Faurot Field here.  Kyle Field is big.  In the future, HDTV could cut into the number of fans rushing through the building’s gates… just as it has at other schools.

Texas A&M’s enthusiasm is big, both from a ticket-demand perspective and from a let’s-improve-the-stadium perspective.  But before Aggie brass get too far down the stadium expansion road, they should probably consider what would happen if their team falters and home entertainment systems continue to improve.

 


19 comments
Geaux Tigers
Geaux Tigers

Build it and they will come!  Even when previous SEC teams were not having good years in football, they still sell the majority of their tickets out pretty much every game.  When LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, etc. start playing in College Station, those are games worth going to see even if your team is having an off year.  If A&M is winning, that's all the better because for sure the place will be packed.  If Kyle Field is taking up a lot of room around the center of campus and it will cost more to upgrade than it's worth then Texas A&M might as well use that land west of the campus and build a nice new stadium if they have the funding. A new stadium with about 90,000 plus seats with plenty of luxury suites to get that extra premium from the rich corporations/alum seems to work out real well with raising revenue from home games with all the rest of the SEC teams.  If Texas A&M seriously wants to get out of the shadow of the University of Texas, I hope they build an awesome stadium and get after all those great recruits that normally go to UT, Oklahoma or other SEC teams.  I think UT's weakness is their arrogance and I hope the powers that be in Austin regret the day they did not join the SEC when offered. Let's face it, Texas is a southern state. If I was an A&M fan, I would rather see my team play teams like I listed above in LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee than to have to watch Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas Tech or Oklahoma State come to Kyle Field.  I would rather watch big boy football where grown men play and that's the SEC! Geaux Tigers!!!!!!!

btlh2oguy
btlh2oguy

Auburn, LSU and Ark are all looking at stadium improvements and more seats. A&M would be foolish to not look into improving or replacing Kyle Field. There is precedence for ending use of a stadium with historic ties to a university.  Alabama stopped playing at Legion Field. It was in Alabama's best interest. Bryant-Denny had more seating and there was no chance Bham was going to update or enlarge the old grey lady. 

StanTxAg
StanTxAg

Thanks John, didn't mean to imply you called us a "push over," just fans in general (my mistake).  Enjoy your site and appreciate your commentary.  Thanks Again!

StanTxAg
StanTxAg

John,

On the NCAA or Football Foundation web sites they describe attendance at college football is still on the increase.  I too heard the studies that HD TV is killing attendance, for sure in the "Pros."  I think the drop off is more due to the economy than anything else.  Other posters have brought up good points that A&M alumni base is still growing and we have more student seating than any other college (we hold the national record).  Now in the SEC we must offer up more visitor seating, those Aggies have to go somewhere!   I'm sure all these factors will be taken into consideration during the announced study.

 

Don't take it personal if Aggies dissagree with you.  We have a lot to learn about the SEC, but you have a lot to learn about us.  A&M hasn't won a Nat'l Champ. since 1939, but can still fill a stadium and we have no intention of becoming a "push over."  Time will tell, painfully, but time will tell.  If not, just accept the proven fact "Everything's big in Texas!"

 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

All..

 

Fine, go ahead and knock down Kyle Field and build a bigger stadium.  Then get back to me when it's not filled to capacity.  We're talking national trends here.  Attendance is dropping across the country for college sports.  Even the NFL -- America's most popular sport -- is having to cook up new ways to get fans to games when they can just as easily watch at home in HDTV.  

 

If A&M wants to revamp and upgrade its stadium, I'm all for it.  But building a bigger facility when attendance across the country for college football and basketball is dropping is literally asking for trouble.

 

John

MiloMoon
MiloMoon

Living in Houston, I have seen first hand some of these discussions. One of the items that has to be addressed is the fact that A&M actually "lost" seating for their fans moving to the SEC. The SEC is requires 8k tickets for the opposing team. It is known that the SEC fans travel and will normally sell that allotment. The B12 only required 2.5k tickets for the opposing team, and rarely sold them. Baylor only sold 385 tickets to the TAMU game last year. A school 80 something miles away could only sell a couple of hundred tickets. So they had to pull tickets from season ticket holders because the SEC requires lower bowl seating and from general admission that will not go to A&M fans. So one of the reason why they are looking to expand is just to make up the difference of A&M tickets that are not being sold to A&M fans, but to other schools. I have already warned my Aggie friends that the game day atmosphere will shift dramatically. Your stadium is not the same when you have 10k Bama/LSU fans making more noise than your 75k home fans. There is also the whole race with TU. People outside of Texas really do not understand the relationship between A&M and TU. A&M is the little brother that is trying to find itself and get out of the star older siblings shadow. The SEC is a major step in creating a separate image for the TAMU that is not related to TU. A&M wants and will eventually have the best (not the largest) stadium in the state. There is a huge plot of land on the west side of campus that they could build a new grand palace, and tear down Kyle field, which is in the heart of the campus and would free up much needed space to build dorms and classrooms. This is not an option TU can even debate being in downtown Austin. It would be one way to show up TU in a way that they cannot match.

m_Ag
m_Ag

The move to the SEC has actually delayed any action on the stadium a year or two. A&M has been overhauling all of its sports facilities over the last decade or so (just did the baseball park), and the football stadium is one of the last to be done. From what I understand, the magnitude of bringing everything up to modern codes, along with adding luxury boxes, revamping concessions, bathrooms, and everything else, means that building a new stadium might be cheaper than the overhaul that is necessary. Even without changing the number of seats, this would still be a major project. While the move to the SEC will increase demand for tickets, more seating would probably have been necessary anyway. A&M has had a down decade, but with a strong season 2 years ago and competitive (if frustrating) season this past year, the school has had much more demand for tickets than it has supply. At the 2010 game against Nebraska, they added all sorts of temporary seating and somehow squeezed over 90,000 people in the stadium, before deciding that was a bad idea and limiting seating to around 87,000 last year. I think they should probably go to around 93,000, but build in a way they can easily add 3,000-7,000 more seats later if demand continues to increase.

Hogitall
Hogitall

I believe this proactive approach by ATM is a good one for several reasons:

 

First, when Arkansas joined the SEC our facilities were inferior to the rest of the conference. We had difficulty competing in the SEC with these facilities. The UofA has excellent facilities now, and we continue to improve them. This has helped our recruiting and helped us to be more competitive in the SEC. ATM isn't as behind as we were, but there is room for improvement and I believe they are wise to take this proactive step.

 

Second, I live in Houston, which is very close to College Station, and I've read several articles that indicate ATM recruiting is benefiting from their move to the SEC. However, ATM has to compete with u.t. and other B12 schools for Texas recruits, and improving Kyle field is a very important step. The Longhorns have a 100K+seat newly remodeled stadium. Baylor has released plans for a new stadium (very nice I might add). ATM doesn't need to wait and see how they might perform in the SEC, they need to take steps to win the battle for Texas recruits. Doing that will provide them what they need to compete in the SEC.

 

As a side note...I'm very happy to have the Aggies in the conference.  It's nice to have an old friend in the SEC.

SouthernAggie
SouthernAggie

That's a worthwhile point about taking it slow, but the move to the SEC isn't the only factor here. The demand for tickets is also increasing naturally because A&M has a huge alumni base that is probably the fastest growing in the SEC and possibly the country. A&M and Florida have enrollments that dwarf all other SEC universities. According to the numbers on the Wikipedia SEC page, A&M has more students than UT and Auburn combined, for example. Also, A&M is only a couple generations removed from being an all-male, all-military school, at which time it had under 10,000 students.  So, every new alumni class is not only bigger than those of most other schools in the U.S., it's also replacing the much smaller classes that are dying off. When that natural decrease in demand is combined with the increased demand for visiting SEC fan bases, it makes a lot of sense to explore the options for expansion.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

StanTxAg...

 

From what I've read in previous coverage of A&M's ticket demand, this will make the first time in several years that all the school's season tickets are sold out.  That from the Texas media.

 

And I don't if I've ever referred to A&M as a "push over."  Personally I believe they're a sleeping giant now that they're in the SEC.

 

Thanks for reading,

John

MiloMoon
MiloMoon

 @John at MrSEC I agree with you. I laugh at when I see the plans (yes they have plans already) to expand Kyle field to 115k. I see the issues UT is having getting 100k in the stands every week. Going to the games were some of my best memories growing up. I am one of those people that now prefer to watch the game at home than in the stands. When you factor in the $8 sodas, $30 parking, and $50 tickets, it becomes a no brainer. I could see build a new stadium that created a great game day experience, but capping it a 90-95k on the west side of campus up in College Station. It would build a stadium that is ADA approved and free up valuable land close to the center of campus for new buildings and dorms. So there is a win/win there for A&M. I even expect Bama to regret 10-15 years down the road to be announcing that they are adding an inch or two  to every bleacher seat to "enhance the fan experience". When in realty they are decreasing capacity because they are having issues selling the seats.

Brazos
Brazos

 @MiloMoon Great post.  I have to say when A&M fans that refer to Texas as TU, it makes them fans sound like a petulant children and screams inferiority complex.  Yes, Texas is the 900 lb gorilla but if yall start playing SEC football, A&M will beat up Texas on the football field and that is the best respect you can ask for.  Yall will start playing each other again at some point.  A&M just needs to make sure it pops Texas in the mouth when they do resume playing.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

SouthernAggie...

 

MIght not be the only factor, but it's the factor mentioned by Texas A&M's president.

 

John

m_Ag
m_Ag

Referring to them as TU was not originally an insult.  You can read early stories about the football team from the Austin press, and "Texas University" was used interchangeably with "University of Texas".  I also believe "TU" was used nationally as the abreviation to prevent confusion with the older Tennessee, (like Missouri used "MU" to prevent confusion with Michigan).

 

At some point the Longhorns decided that, Tennessee be damned, they wanted to be referred to as UT, and that it was an 'insult' to refer to them as TU.  This is all rather silly.  Somehow schools like Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma don't think it's an insult to referr to them by an abreviation that distinguishes them from older schools.

 

Now, Aggies write "tu" in lowercase as a small insult to Longhorn fans, but calling them "TU" isn't really an insult.  Longhorn fans are just being petty when they get annoyed by that.

Savannah guy
Savannah guy

Before you call A&M fans "petulant children" at least know why we call the longhorns TU. To any Aggie UT is the University of Tennessee, always has been. The University of Texas was originally called Texas University and later changed their name. Please know the facts before spouting your dribble.

StanTxAg
StanTxAg

Yes, I think you will agree with yourself that Nebraska, Colorado, Mizzou and aTm are "petulant." and inferior.

 

Savannah guy
Savannah guy

 @Jamesgoss  @Savannah The way I read it in the book "Backyard Brawl", after A&M opened it's doors in 1876 the state wanted another university called Texas University. By the time 1883 came around they decided to make it The University of Texas when they actually opened their doors. I have also read what your talking about too.

StanTxAg
StanTxAg

 @Jamesgoss  @Savannah I'm sure James is right, that's pretty much the way I understood it.  I've always used "tu" because it really seems to annoy them and ties in with "Tea Sips" or "TSips" (story for another time). 

jcgbmt2012
jcgbmt2012

@Savannah guy Hmmm..Aggie Senior here graduating in May and I have to tell you...you're wrong. The Constitution of Texas as written in 1876 called it The University of Texas. Aggies call it tu because it is not THE university OF Texas. It's A university of Texas and it wasn't the first public university in the state or even the second. Texas A&M was the first and Prairie View A&M was the second. Texas, unlike most states, has two flagship universities created by the constitution as well as having permanent funding granted by the constitution, unlike other universities which require state appropriations. In addition we say tu not TU. Every good aggie knows that.



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