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LSU Looks To Expand Tiger Stadium; Who’ll Be The First To Go The Other Way?

LSU officials announced yesterday that a proposal to expand Tiger Stadium will be taken to the school’s board of supervisors next week.  That proposal will call for the addition of:

 

* Approximately 60 suites

* Approximately 3,000 club seats (above the current South end zone seats)

* Approximately 1,500 general seats (above the proposed new club seats)

 

A number of SEC institutions have recently completed expansion (Alabama) or renovation (Tennessee) projects at their football stadium sites.  Others — like Mississippi State — are working to add seats.  Vanderbilt is going to add a grass berm area in the open end zone at Dudley Field.  Missouri officials are expected to look at future expansion of Faurot Field.  And at Texas A&M there’s talk of possibly demolishing Kyle Field in favor of building a newer, better, bigger facility in its place.

All that sounds good and the idea clearly is to bring in more cash for cash-strapped universities.  (Though it seems hard to call these schools cash-strapped when they’re bringing in record revenue from ticket prices and television contracts.)

Unfortunately, attendance is dropping across the country for most sporting events.  Many schools and professional franchises are finding it harder and harder to compete against wall-to-wall HD television coverage.

Years ago, a fan’s only option to see his team play was to buy a ticket and attend a game.  Now, a fan can sit in his media room, dial up his own school’s game in crystal clear HD — or even 3D — and also flip around the dial through dozens of other games in a single given day.  Think about it.  You’ll be able to see more college football games in a weekend this fall than you could have in an entire year just 20 years ago.  That’s a staggering jump in terms of options.

Also, some “common” fans are already being priced out of their favorite team’s games.

At some point, one major university will decide to build a stadium that caters first and foremost to the richest of the rich.  The overall seating capacity will take a deep slice while the size and luxuriousness of its suites and club areas will grow.  Bigger seats, better food, better views and better parking.  Closer proximity to the players and coaches might also be a draw — a la Jerry Jones’ catwalk at Cowboys Stadium where his team enters through a club level.

Ramping up the event factors of attending a game while cutting down on the ability to get into said game might just drive overall revenues even higher with less seats to sell.  Think Augusta National.  There might once again be something special about saying, “Yes, I was actually at the game on Saturday.”

In the short run, it makes sense for programs like Alabama and LSU and Texas A&M to expand their stadiums — while also adding club suites and box seats — while the demand for tickets is high.  But all programs have highs and lows, as older fans at Bama, LSU and A&M well know.

So in the long run we may begin to see a shift toward stadiums designed to go head-to-head with the comfort of your own living room.  And that might mean smaller stadium capacities… with much more room and many more amenities for the biggest of boosters.

 


7 comments
Mizzou77
Mizzou77

What will be interesting is if ticket prices eventually drop across the board, both in college and professionally.  Clearly, major programs like LSU and such won't have that issue, as much of the experience is attending the actual game, but eventually, one wonders if the availability of all games on TV will sharply drive down ticket prices for most teams.  It should..as they've gotten out of hand.Right now I believe we are in a major "sports bubble" that will burst within the next 10 years.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I suppose there is always the possibility of an NFL-like blackout rule.  I would think something like that is the next step before they get to the point where they are rebuilding the stadiums to emphasize luxury.

MiloMoon
MiloMoon

The next stage that I see happening at many schools is the widening of the seats in the stadium to "enhance the fan experience". I can see UT and many of the other major stadiums start adding an inch or two back to the seats. This will reduce capacity but not really cost any money.

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

As for competition with TV, that's very true of pro games. I go to college games to pretend I'm young and in college again. The games just the excuse.

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

Think about how much businesses in SEC towns rely on that incoming stream of alumni and cash. Stadiums that consciously restrict that number significantly are directly impacting the number of hotel rooms and restaurant meals consumed over the course of a season. I'm not suggesting that consequence would nix the design of such stadiums, just noting it's a decision that will have to made in concert with a variety of interests in mind. Town-gown relationships matter more than people think.

 

I'm in the top tax bracket, and frankly I'm getting a little sick of all this pandering to the upper-crust of which I am statistically a part. Somewhere along the way we crossed a line as a country. I no longer feel comfortable in first class or club level. It just feels... stuffy. Elitist. Un-American, somehow.

 

Scott
Scott

UT has done this already, sorta.  While they didn't demolish entire sections of Neyland Stadium, they did replace some bleachers with premium seating, which dropped the capacity by 5000 or so.  Ditto for  Thompson Boling Arena.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Scott...

 

Aware of UT's renovations and that was a step toward what I'm talking about.  

 

But I was trying to convey that BIG changes might be coming.  Rather than dropping capacity by 5,000 in order to add club suites, I'm talking dropping capacity by 20,000 or 30,000 and creating palaces for the high-end fans who'll view game attendance as a status symbol.

 

As ticket prices rise, fewer and fewer common fans will choose to attend games when they're free on TV.  At some point, some school will try to go in the other direction and cater to the folks who want champagne, caviar, their own ultra-plush suites, and access to the field or team.  

 

Thanks for reading,

John

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