May 6, 2000
By Andy Hemmer
Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal
The University of Cincinnati's notably low-tech Nippert Stadium will soon have a new $1 million high-tech scoreboard, thanks to a deal with sports marketing firm ISP Sports, as well as 10,000 new seats.
The renovation work, scheduled to begin in May and conclude by August, marks the biggest improvements at the facility since capacity was boosted to 35,000 in 1992.
ISP Sports, the exclusive marketer of UC sports, recently concluded several months of negotiations with scoreboard maker Daktronics Inc. and the school.
According to terms of its deal with the school, ISP will buy three scoreboards, including units for the baseball and soccer fields. In return, the firm's original contract with UC - signed in 1999 - has been extended four years to 2016, and the firm will be able to reap the benefits of new sponsorship deals, such as one recently signed by PepsiCo that calls for Pepsi to hang its corporate logo on the Nippert and baseball scoreboards.
The 10,000 new seats will be affixed to the aluminum bleacher seats in the lower bowl section of Nippert Stadium at a cost to the university of $400,000, said Paul Klaczak, UC associate athletic director.
Nippert Stadium is one of the oldest -- and newest -- college football playing sites in the country.
The rich history and tradition of the Bearcats' football home was preserved and enshrined when the structure underwent a $10.1 million renovation. When it was completed for the start of the 1992 season, it sparkled with a totally new seating configuration, a modern press box complete with a luxury VIP entertaining area, contemporary scoreboard and message center and new and improved lighting.
The Astroturf 8 playing surface, the latest hybrid in artificial turf, provides for instantaneous draining of any moisture to give participants the best footing in any weather conditions.
The stadium's early-century brickwork was preserved in the design of the renovation, and with the combination of wrought iron gates and trim, Nippert projects the comfortable old-time stadium charm and appeal which have made new facilities such as Camden Yards attractive sports facilities.
Cincinnati teams have been playing on this site since the turn of the century, making Nippert the fourth-oldest playing site and sixth-oldest stadium in college football.
The stadium's founder was Arch Carson, who played a significant role in starting football on the UC campus in 1885 as captain and principle organizer of Cincinnati's first football teams. In 1901 as physical director of the university, Carson guided the construction of the playing field which was later named for him -- the playing surface of the stadium today is still called Carson Field.
The Bearcats began playing and practicing on the site in 1902. In 1916, construction began on a permanent brick-and-concrete stadium structure, which was completed, section-by-section, as funds were raised.
During the season-ending clash with rival Miami (Ohio) in 1923, Jimmy Nippert sustained a spike wound injury and died a month later from blood poisoning. His grandfather, James N. Gamble of Procter and Gamble, provided the funds needed to complete the horseshoe-shaped structure, and the James Gamble Nippert Memorial Stadium was dedicated on Nov. 8, 1924.
Nippert stadium has undergone a series of expansions. In 1936, the playing field was lowered 12 feet to allow spectator seating to increase to 24,000. The Reed Shank Pavilion was added in 1954 to bring the capacity to 28,000. Synthetic turf was introduced in 1970.
The most recent expansion has upped the capacity to 35,000 through extending the upper deck, now called the Herschede-Shank Pavilion.
This renovation has enabled Nippert Stadium to remain a classy showplace for college football.
Nippert Stadium History
1895 Arch Carson introduced a plan to build a stadium on a site in Burnet Woods.
1902 Cincinnati played its first game on Carson Field. Wooden bleachers were built on the surrounding hillside.
1909 Lights were first used because the large number of co-op students on the team could practice only at night.
1916 Funds to build a permanent brick and concrete structure were made available by a city bond issue.
1923 Cincinnati defeated Hanover College, 20-6, in the first night collegiate football game in the Midwest. James Gamble donated $250,000 in memory of his grandson, Jimmy Nippert, to complete the stadium.
1924 The completed James Gamble Nippert Stadium was dedicated. Capacity is 12,000.
1936 Carson Field was lowered 12 feet to allow the capacity to expand to 24,000.
1954 Reed Shank Pavilion completed to boost the capacity to 28,000.
1970 Surface changed from natural grass to Astro Turf.
1989 Nippert Stadium was closed following the football season for renovation. UC played its 1990 home games at Riverfront Stadium.
1991 Phase I of the stadium renovation was completed to allow for Bearcat home games to be played. The structure is fortified and a three-tiered press box is added.
1992 Phase II of the renovation was completed, upping the seating capacity to 35,000 through the expansion of the Herschede-Shank Pavilion, and adding new lighting and a scoreboard.
Source: University of Cincinnati Sports Information Office
CINCY SEEKS STADIUM UPGRADES
December 4, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures
Cincinnati, Ohio - University of Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly, declared at his weekly
news conference that he intends to coach at UC "into the future," following a commitment from the
school to fast-track the renovation and expansion of 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium.
"That was the meat of the conversation," Kelly said. "We have moved to this level a lot quicker
than anybody thought. Although the plan was there, I don't know that they thought it was a
two-year plan. I think we talked about five years."
UC's football home since 1902, Nippert Stadium was last expanded and renovated in 1992. The
seating capacity has been more than adequate until the past two years.
That's when the Bearcats began to regularly attract crowds from 30,000 to 35,000 and it became
apparent that the infrastructure could not comfortably support so many people.
"Nippert Stadium has always been, to some extent, a facility that needs to be addressed,"
athletic director Mike Thomas said. "We really needed a trigger moment to launch that thing."
Thomas said the renovation will focus on additional seating; premium seating, such as luxury
boxes and club seats that produce revenue; and infrastructure elements such as restrooms and
There is no cost estimate, nor has a determination been made as to how many seats to add.
The funding will come from the university's capital campaign, which runs for five more years
and has a goal of $1 billion.
Thomas said the school had an architect look at the stadium during the Pittsburgh game Nov.
22 and plans to have more studies done. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
CINCINNATI BEGINS PLANNING NEW FOOTBALL STADIUM
December 3, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Cincinnati, Ohio - University of Cincinnati Athletic Director Mike Thomas says the school's
stadium is the smallest in the Big East Conference and cannot accommodate the fans that want to attend the schools games. That means the school needs to consider expanding its 35,000-seat
stadium or replacing the 107-year-old venue.
Some of the more ambitious ideas could include adding to Tangeman University Center or new
seats wrapping around the north end of the stadium, near Dieterle Vocal Arts Center.
The project doesn't have a price tag, and won't until UC receives a feasibility study around the
end of the year.
Renovating Nippert Stadium is not even the most immediate priority of the athletic department,
which still is trying to raise millions of dollars to fully pay for football practice fields and an athletic complex.
Thomas said UC recognizes it has a jewel in Nippert, an on-campus facility with an intimate
atmosphere that fans love. But he said the stadium clearly needs an update.
It's also trying to build a base for a big-time program that can not only produce a winning team,
but spread the university's name nationwide and supports the rest of the athletic department.
"Those revenues (from an expanded Nippert) help for the project, but they also help support
the needs of 18 sports," Thomas said.
The program overspent by nearly $30 million during the last decade and is trying to pay that
money back to the university. Last year Thomas was forced to cut scholarships for men's swimming,
cross country and track.
PREMIUM SEATS MAY GO INTO NIPPERT STADIUM
March 11, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Cincinnati, Ohio - Research says the University of Cincinnati could benefit by adding
additional premium seat options to Nippert Stadium. The study by Conventions, Sports and Leisure International, says the work could mean $2.7 to $3.2 million a year.
The $62,500-study recommends that premium seating for Nippert include approximately 18 suites with seating for 16 people each; 50 loge boxes with seating for four people each; 500 regular club seats; 300 club seats for George Smith Society members; 300 young professional club seats; and 300 former athlete C-Club seats.
Over a 30-year period, the study estimates an additional $44.5 million beyond annual debt service payments could be generated by premium seating.
"We are capped in our ability to generate revenue right now at Nippert Stadium. There's only so many seats you can sell at the rates that we can sell them," said Andy Hurley, the school's senior associate athletics director for development. "We've got to lift the ceiling on our ability to generate revenue."
Architectural studies are progressing to determine how the stadium, which is located in the middle of campus and surrounded by buildings, can be renovated.
The information regarding the market for suites - with an average annual donation of $48,000 (not including the price of tickets) - is considered the weakest part of the study, Hurley said, because of the limited number of responses.
UC operates under a difference set of circumstances from most BCS football schools, Hurley said, because of its location in a market with major league professional football and baseball.
"A lot of the most successful college programs, they own that marketplace, so they can set levels for the luxury boxes, for the premium experiences," Hurley said. "The market is defined for the premium sports experience here because of the Reds and the Bengals. We can't go substantially more or substantially less."
CINCINNATI PLEASED WITH GAMES HELD AT PAUL BROWN STADIUM
September 30, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Cincinnati, Ohio - University of Cincinnati officials are pleased with the large crowds they have
been drawing for games at the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium and believe they may have outgrown the 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Nevertheless, school officials say they don't see a new stadium in their future.
The UC-Oklahoma game was the second the Bearcats have played there. The first was the 2002 game against Ohio State that drew a crowd of 66,319, many of whom were Buckeyes fans, the newspaper said. But except for a few thousand Oklahoma fans, the crowd at PBS on Saturday was composed of UC fans.
"From a percentage standpoint it was probably the highest percentage of UC football fans in this city and you've got to be excited about that," athletic director Mike Thomas told the Enquirer.
Before the Oklahoma game, UC officials estimated that after expenses, a crowd of 45,000 would net the school $240,000 more than it would have if the game had been played at Nippert Stadium, it was reported.
With a crowd of 58,253 the financial payoff would seem to be considerably higher, although officials told the newspaper those numbers weren't available yet.
But attendance isn't the only thing to consider when exploring moving games.
"You've got the integration of two incompatible ticket systems," Thomas said, "which cause some heartburn for our ticket office and our fans. There's going to be some kinks in the system whether it's a few games down there or multiple games."
That's not to say those kinks couldn't be worked out. At this point, all Thomas will say is that the school will continue to study the idea of playing more games downtown.
CINCINNATI LOSES SPONSORSHIP MONEY IN GAME SHIFT
November 17, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Cincinnati, Ohio - The shifting of two University of Cincinnati home games to Paul Brown
Stadium will cost the school an estimated $1.04 million in sponsorship revenue, the Cincinnati Enquirer said. The loss is a result of conflicts between its sponsors and those supporting the Bengals.
For example, UC has a contract with chili-maker Skyline and the Bengals are sponsored by Gold Star, meaning Skyline signs and other ads couldn't be shown in the stadium during the games against Louisville and West Virginia.
Pizza also was a conflict because of the competition between UC sponsor Donatos and Bengals sponsor LaRosa's. PNC Bank, which is working with UC this year, also did not get signs.
UC's vendor, IMG College, has gotten the sponsors marketing spots at other events to make up the difference. But it wasn't able to sell exclusively at Paul Brown Stadium, which will cut its payment to UC, the newspaper said.
UC expects to recoup some of the lost income with ticket sales so the eventual loss probably will be less, Deputy Athletic Director Bob Arkeilpane said.
"We knew about that and we spoke to the Bengals about it to try and get clearance," Arkeilpane said. "Certainly the Bengals have to look out for the best interests of their sponsors as well."
UC still isn't sure whether it made money on the two games, which drew nearly 90,000 fans combined after it moved the games from the 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium.
"We always looked at it as a two-game test," he said.