March 28, 2012
Rice Athletics has received many questions regarding the Football Scholar-Athlete Development Center and we wanted to take this opportunity to share some answers with you.
Why does Rice need a new football facility?
The current facilities are aging and no longer serve the needs of our student-athletes or the campus. Rice Stadium opened in 1950. The R Room was added in 1972, and in 1979 the locker rooms were expanded and the sports medicine areas were added. Football offices were added in 1980, the weight room was added in 1984 and the Cox Fitness Center was built in 1995. A study, commissioned by our Facilities, Engineering and Planning staff, concluded that renovations alone would not meet the needs of a modern football program and recommended replacing the building that houses the weight room, lockers and offices. Building a new football facility is an emphatic statement to our student-athletes and our fans that Rice is committed to being a successful NCAA Division I-A program. This will enhance our ability to recruit top student-athletes who can compete against the likes of the University of Texas on the field and Harvard University in the classroom.
What does the $44.5 million proposal include?
In December 2011, the Rice University Board of Trustees approved a $44.5 million proposal to build a two-story football facility at the south end of Rice Stadium and to make improvements to the stadium. The new 80,000-square-foot structure will house training and locker rooms, the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame, a sports medicine center for all student-athletes, offices for the coaching and support staffs and a room for news conferences and other meetings. The proposal includes plans to demolish the structures currently at the south end, including the R Room that houses the Hall of Fame; replace restrooms and ticket booths; and build eight suites in the south zone. Once these steps are complete, the south side of Rice Stadium will be opened up, providing a green space for tailgating-type activities within the stadium.
Is this only the first step to renovate or replace Rice Stadium?
We are still exploring our options regarding Rice Stadium. Building a new stadium would require a significant onetime investment of nearly $100 million. It may make more sense to renovate Rice Stadium in phases as funding becomes available. Removal the football building will reduce deferred maintenance costs by about $7 million, and other stadium renovations will further reduce those costs.
Would Rice ever decide to play football off campus, perhaps at Reliant Stadium?
Playing off campus is not a viable option. Institutions that moved their games off campus have seen weaken campus spirit and lost opportunities for student engagement and the ability to bring alumni and friends of the university back to campus. In Conference USA alone, Central Florida recently abandoned the Citrus Bowl stadium to move on campus, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Tulane are currently planning to build on-campus stadiums.
Does building a facility in this location make it impossible to break ground on a new stadium?
The location of the building allows us maximum flexibility in respect to future plans, no matter if they entail renovation of Rice Stadium or building a new stadium.
Will construction affect regular football activities on campus, like practice or games?
Since the building is detached from the stadium, it will not impact regular football activities or disrupt games.
How long will construction take?
The design and construction period is expected to last slightly less than two years.
Does this upgrade have anything to do with conference realignment?
Although this facility would enhance Rice's position in conference realignment, our top reason for pursuing this project is to offer a top-quality experience to our student-athletes and student body, as well as to the alumni, fans and donors who support our program.
How many seats will be lost to the end zone renovation?
Space for approximately 7,000 seats will be lost. However, the benches in this area were removed in 2006 and are currently covered by a tarp. So no actual seats will be lost from the current configuration.
Do you have a fundraising goal to reach before construction begins?
Our goal is to raise the entire amount needed for the project before construction begins. The actual cost of the project will depend on the final design. We welcome all donations to the project and have many naming opportunities available. Gifts made before June 30, 2013 will count toward Rice's $1 billion Centennial Campaign goal.
For more information, please contact David Biancamano, Director of Development for Athletics, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-348-3561.