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A&M Planning A $425M Renovation Of Kyle Field, Wants Cash From Local Government (Or Else)

As soon as Texas A&M entered the SEC, discussions began in College Station regarding the state of the Aggies’ football home.  Word leaked that A&M might even consider flattening Kyle Field in order to build a bigger, newer facility from scratch.

Well, the current Kyle Field isn’t going to be torn down yet.  But if Aggie officials have their way, it will be upgraded.  In a big way.

According to The Bryan (Texas) Eagle, TAMU chancellor John Sharp told a select group of local government officials earlier this week that the school plans to spend up to $450 million to renovate Kyle Field… and that the school wants local politicians to kick in an additional $38 million.

A&M’s leverage is this: We’ll tear down our current stadium and play an entire season of games — worth about $86 million to the local economy — somewhere else while we rebuild if you don’t help us with a three-year renovation project of the current facility.  Whether the school is bluffing — and whether politicians would risk calling that bluff — remains to be seen.

TAMU president R. Bowen Loftin said via statement yesterday:

 

“It is important to reiterate that no decisions have been made as to whether the Aggies will play a season away from Kyle Field, and we continue to hope that this will be an unlikely option.”

 

The seating capacity for a renovated stadium could be anywhere from 93,000 to 103,500, depending on the plan chosen.  The stadium currently seats 83,000.

 


11 comments
DavidIsraelMadison
DavidIsraelMadison

Not to make this all political but Texas A&M is a bastion of conservatism and they are asking for $38 million from the local government. This wreaks of hypocrisy!

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

Wonder what it would cost in today's dollars to rebuild the Swamp? Probably not 425 mil, so gotta be thinking the Ags have a lot of stuff they want to add that is pretty high speed. Anybody know what LSU paid for their stadium upgrade? Almost half a billion for a college stadium seems really high.

 

The buzz from my friends in Aggieland is a bit different in slant from the article, but effectively goes like this:

 

1. To upgrade while still maintaining a schedule at Kyle Field is more expensive and will take longer to accomplish than playing games at a different local and just getting the job done (3 years versus 18 to 24 months). The rationale for asking the local community to pony up is there is about a 40 million dollar difference to Texas A&M in costs in doing it the way the community wants and fastest way. It is a straight up business deal, "You want us to do it the more expensive way, you need to pony up, the University Athletic program is a business." Is this a threat? Yeah, but in a sort of "we love you, but we have bills to pay," way. To the tax payer, it probably won't make a bit of difference, its still a bond risk and taxes.

 

2. Before the move to the SEC, I read that A&M was going to refurbish Kyle by actually reducing the stadium capacity and putting in boxes. The new plan is probably close to being finalized, and A&M is most likely floating a trial balloon here with the locals. The Aggies' admin has a reputation of being very disciplined in how they put info out, so seems to me they are looking for reaction here.

 

3. Looks like A&M has a significant guarantee from donors for up to 100 million on the new project. If they go for one of the options (rumor is they have three major design options to pick from on how to expand to 100,000) that allows for graduated expansion, the $425 million figure may be total program cost, not initial costs, and with community bonds of 30-40 mil, they might have to borrow somewhere in the neighborhood of 275-300 mill for the rebuild.

 

Their new athletic director was at South Carolina, and he said, when he was at USC, that a figure less than $200 mil was all he was comfortable with for a major college to borrow on athletics in todays market. Since I used to work in program management for some pretty large projects, I like to pay attention to stuff like this, but I am not suggesting this the straight scoop. Just what some of the guys I know who have jobs around the area are saying.

 

At any rate, I was at the UF - A&M game, and parts of Kyle really need replacing. A&M has the feel of real money everywhere you go on campus. Buildings are Texas sized massive, and there is a lot of new bling there. It has the feel of a campus that can afford this, but who knows. Half a billion is a lot of money, unless you are a Fed.

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @DavidIsraelMadison Read posts below. Actually A&M is OFFERING the local governments an opportunity to keep the 100 million in tax revenue they will lose if A&M shuts down Kyle field for over a year by doing a buy in of 38 million, which is the difference between spreading the construction out 3 years (what the locals want) and doing it the most efficient way (which is 38 million cheaper than what the community wants). The hypocracy is from tools who don't know what the issues are, don't understand program management and don't like conservative bastions talking smack like they understand what is going on.

MrIowa
MrIowa

@DavidIsraelMadison No it's not. They are playing their capitalism card and free market enterprise. They are contributing to society, not taking, big difference compared to Obamanism!

docaggie
docaggie

 @BonzaiB This is a good summary. There's a lot of conflict brewing over the most economical way to get it done, versus the way that minimizes impact on the local businesses. 

 

The north end of the stadium ('The Zone') is far newer than the rest and would only need a few cosmetic dabs to make it match the rest of a new stadium.  The east and west stands, however, are ancient and really can't be spiffed up any more.  So, that means tearing down those portions and building new ones in their place, plus or minus adding a south end zone portion.  Some of the original discussions were based on the fact that if demolition and construction began immediately following a season, the stadium would be completed in 18-20 months - requiring playing a season at another venue, such as Reliant Stadium in Houston. 

 

However, in order to keep football at Kyle Field and minimize the hurt put on local businesses, the alternate plan was to have a staged construction, where each side of the stadium would be torn down and rebuilt in a different off season, including another off season to build a south zone.  That'd stretch out the construction process over 2-3 off seasons and necessitate higher building costs.  Construction companies aren't keen on leaving their equipment idle for 4 months of the year, so there would be the increased costs of trucking in and out the heavy equipment needed, not to mention increased costs of materials that can be negotiated better when buying in large quantities.

DavidIsraelMadison
DavidIsraelMadison

 @BonzaiB  @DavidIsraelMadison Congrats, you are what's wrong with this country today! Thank you for calling me a tool because I simply point out that asking a local government to chip in $38 million goes against conservative principles. They aren't asking for a reduction in taxes. They are asking for $38 million dollars of tax revenue to support a private project. This is pork barrel spending no matter how you want to spin it because when it is done at other places, for other entities conservatives go nuts. I'm not saying whether it's right or wrong but it is government influence. 

DavidIsraelMadison
DavidIsraelMadison

 @MrIowa  @DavidIsraelMadison College Station isn't going to make extra money in revenue to cover this $38 million. i'm sure that there are some Longhorns in the area as well as people who could care less about college football who don't want to pay for the renovations of Kyle Field with their taxes. But it will be added to their taxes anyway.  This is the government interference that has blown up local, state, and national budgets. 

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @docaggie Thanks, that's almost exactly the take I'm getting. I have been to 15 or so games at Kyle over the years, and its a cool atmosphere. Tough choices, but this has been brewing for awhile, and A&M has a lot of experience with building stuff on campus. Like I said, its Tex-onian in size.

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @DavidIsraelMadison 

 

If the local government does not think getting 100 million in tax revenue for a 40 million dollar investment is a good deal, then they don't have to put the money up. The AD will shut down Kyle Field for a year. A&M will get the stadium for the cheapest price, local businesses that depend of the team will to go into debt and or close while the renovation goes on, the city will have to either float bonds, borrow money or lay off workers to get through the dry spell, and every body who thinks in 7 second sound bites, and who does not live in the community, will be happy. That would be guys like you.

 

If the AD takes that course of action, there will be a two to three year increase in unemployment benefits that have to be paid out and that will be worse for the tax payer than paying their fair share, there will be a lag in the restart of business revenue as new start ups have to get a foothold and build up, a lag in resumption of a full tax intake whille these start up businesses get back into the swing of things will lead to many other businesses in town struggling or going out of business. But hey, what do you care, the local government told the AD it did not want to reduce the golden gooses' risk, and those few hundred families who lost their livelihood can have the government welfare checks to make them all better.

 

So, if we follow your view of how communities should view business expansion, thousands of people are hurt economically, the local governments lose tremendous amounts of tax revenue, their debt goes up because the community will have an increase in unemployment and forclosures, and this impact will last for three to five years, or longer. Or, you can assess the situation like a conservative, and say, its better for everybody if we don't shut down Kyle, everybody shares a bit of the risk, and at the end of three years not only has there not been a disruption in tax revenue and business revenue, there are an additional 10,000-20,000 paying customers adding to our tax and business revenue every year.

 

 

complete tax
complete tax

 @DavidIsraelMadison  @MrIowa I have read somewhere like.. It has now become clear that spending limits have already been adjusted downwards since the 2010 spending review - by as much as £2bn over two years according to one estimate. cool dudd!!!!

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @DavidIsraelMadison  @MrIowa Wrong. The loss of tax revenue for a year, the loss of revenue to small businesses for that year Kyle would be shut down will devastate the local community, and will result in much higher losses in taxes than floating a 38 million dollar bond. You do not understand the devastation to a college town that disruption in home games cause. A&M is doing their part in this process. A&M added 7 years to their contract with Arkansas and the Dallas Cowboys, a deal A&M did not want to extend, to get an extra home game at Kyle Field for this year. One of the big reasons was A&M made a commitment to the local community to try and keep as much revenue flowing into the local community as possible. Its people who do not understand the entire picture of how colleges support their local communities that come up with this drivel.



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