For those who hold the Alabama-Auburn/Auburn-Alabama game so dear, here's news: in just a few short years, the game could become even more exciting.
As hard as it might be to believe such a concept, it's true.
Even those who still call the game the Iron Bowl out of a loyalty to the game's tradition, even though since it no longer is a permanent fixture in Birmingham it isn't actually the Iron Bowl anymore (save it; we can argue that point later), will see the improvement the game could undergo in a just a matter of the end of a contract.
The game's intensity will be hard to increase, but the feeling of the game could take on a new dimension should whispers of change prove true.
The whispers are that, following 2001 when the current contract between the University of Alabama and Legion Field ends, Alabama will, like Auburn, play its home games in the series on its campus.
If true, that would be a fine twist to a terrific series.
College football is unique in its feeling, its emotion and its personality, as compared to the pro game. College football is made for college campuses, for the cheers of its students and the loyalty of its alumni and for loyal fans who regularly visit a school that, in many cases, they didn't attend, but hold that bond dear.
College football is made for the campus and its stadiums, structures built for the surroundings, not cold superstructures built by city politics.
For sure, the Auburn-Alabama/Alabama-Auburn game is college football at its zany, emotional, traditional zenith; a game that fans sometimes carry too an extreme, but one that, regardless of the circumstances in conference or national races, will always pack an emotional punch.
Thus, it is a game that deserves the ultimate attachment: campus atmosphere. Playing a game on campus is like adding that perfect, special ingredient that highlights a recipe.
Moving Alabama's home games to Bryant-Denny Stadium, complementing Auburn's home games at Jordan-Hare Stadium, would be that ingredient, the perfect spice to a perfectly terrific game.
Before the recent expansions of Jordan-Hare and Bryant-Denny, the idea probably wouldn't have worked. That's no longer true. Now both stadiums can accommodate the ticket demand in equal measure to Birmingham's Legion Field.
Likewise, now Birmingham has a true home team, with the Alabama-Birmingham joining Division I-A football, thus assuring Legion Field will not be left void of a college football tenant.
The electricity of The Game when it has been played on Auburn's campus in recent seasons should be all the proof anyone needs that The Game will only be
enhanced by a similar move to Tuscaloosa.
Remember 1989? Remember that first game in Auburn? Remember the noise? The excitement? The electricity? The feeling? Now imagine that scene repeated each season, alternating between Auburn and Tuscaloosa. Imagine the same electricity and feeling and noise and excitement engulfing Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Imagine that kind of feeling every season. Sure, emotion will always be a dominant part of the series, just as it will always be a game that will be drenched in noise and atmosphere. But the type of atmosphere available on the campuses is something special, and this series, this game, demands all the steps necessary to ensure its special designation.
It's only a matter of whispers right now, an idea whose time has come but whose time must legally await another moment. Yet it's never too soon to turn those whispers into louder voices asking for change, in this case a change for the better.
If you thought The Game couldn't get any better, just wait.
From the June 11, 2004 print edition
Brice wins $40M job expanding UA stadium
Two weeks after the Alabama Crimson Tide plays its annual game with Auburn's Tigers in November, a construction crew will begin a $40 million expansion of UA's Bryant-Denny Stadium, adding 10,000 seats and a dozen or more skyboxes to the north end zone.
Overseeing the 18-month project is Bob Shoulders, who played on two high school championship football teams and wore the zebra stripes of a Southeastern Conference football official. He was project manager when his employer - Birmingham-based Brice Building Co. Inc. - was general contractor during construction of a west-side upper deck and new press box in 1987-88, which increased seating capacity from 60,000 to 70,123.
Shoulders, a 44-year-old vice president at Brice, is senior executive in charge of Brice's construction management contract, overseeing the project, which includes an upper deck around the north end zone (built by Brice in the 1960s) and, tentatively, a fan-friendly plaza between University Boulevard and the 83,818-seat stadium.
Work is scheduled for completion in July 2006, with the team able to play all its home games at the stadium during construction in fall 2005.
"It's one of those projects everybody wants to be a part of. In our state, whether it's Bryant-Denny or (Auburn University's) Jordan-Hare or wherever, football has become a very important part of who we are," says Shoulders, who played on Mountain Brook High School's 1975 and 1976 state 4-A championship football teams. "This is not just building something you walk away from."
One harmonious building
Shoulders and project superintendent David Hughes, a Tuscaloosa resident, are managing the entire project from planning to completion.
"Currently, the challenge is trying to set the north end zone in between the east-and-west-side upper decks to make it look like it belongs there," Shoulders says. "You want one harmonious building."
Shoulders must stow his slide rule and don a marketing hat to figure how many seats and skyboxes can be squeezed in the format. The university wants private "upper-end" seating in the middle of the deck, flanked by regular seats, with skyboxes sandwiched in. "The ticket office folks and the athletic administration people are trying to run the numbers based on market surveys to determine what is the easiest they can sell, and the flip side, what generates the most revenue to pay for it (expansion)," Shoulders says. "It has to balance out from a marketing standpoint."
Another major challenge is accommodating fans during the 2005 season - smack dab in the middle of construction. But as in any project, the biggest hurdle is fitting the university's wish list into a finite budget.
"But this one is (even tighter), because the university wants to be first and foremost in terms of an athletic stadium and facilities," he says, "and they themselves set a pretty strict and defined project budget. Trying to work with the design team and balancing those two will be our biggest challenge."
ALABAMA DISCUSSES STADIUM EXPANSION
September 25, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees have been discussing a
possible expansion for Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Properties Committee approved stage one of a proposed expansion. That means university
officials can do a feasibility study to determine where to expand the stadium and how it much it
Speculation has centered on closing the South End Zone, but UA spokeswoman Debbie Lane
said the decision would depend on the outcome of the study.
No word on who will conduct the study or how long it would take. (WVUA)
ALABAMA SEEKS STADIUM EXPANSION
November 20, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - An expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium could be completed before the 2010
season, if everything falls into place, University of Alabama President Robert Witt said.
UA trustees approved the look, estimated cost and scope of an expansion to the football
stadium's south end zone, however, Witt said the project has not reached a point of no return.
"A decision hasn't been made, but we want everything in place so that if we do decide to move
forward it will be ready for fall 2010," Witt said after the meeting.
With an estimated price tag of $80.6 million, the project would expand the stadium's south end
zone and increase Bryant-Denny Stadium's capacity to more than 101,000, according to documents
given to trustees.
Included in the project would be an 8,500-seat upper deck with concourse and concessions,
3,200 club seats split into a 1,500-seat South Zone and 1,700-seat Stadium Club, 34 luxury suites, two expanded suites, a donor hall of fame, Crimson Tide Foundation offices and a ground-level market for food and merchandise.
As with the last end zone expansion, the current seating in the upper rows of the main bowl
would be removed, but the project would net about 9,000 seats.
Since the expansion would go where the scoreboard now sits, two video boards would be
placed in the corners between the expanded upper deck and the existing upper decks, according to
Witt said three financial pieces need to fall into place before he and other administrators ask
trustees for permission to build the addition. First, the $80.6 million cost is an estimate. "We need to get a better handle on costs," he said.
UA plans to pay for the expansion up front through debt, issuing a bond for the cost of
construction. However, the expansion should more than pay for itself over time, according to board documents.
Witt also said he wants to see how the economy will affect donations to the university.
"So far donations haven't been hurt, but I'd like a little bit more information than one month,"
he said, referring to October, the volatile first month of the fiscal year.
The expansion of the south end zone has been discussed since early 2007 when demand for
tickets skyrocketed after the university hired head football coach Nick Saban. In April 2007, UA
hired Davis Architects to study an expansion of the south end zone next to Bryant Drive as part of an athletic facility master plan.
UA paid $50 million to add roughly 9,000 seats to the north end zone before the 2006 season.
ALABAMA SEEKS FINAL APPROVAL ON STADIUM PROJECT
February 5, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - The University of Alabama is preparing to ask the University of Alabama
System Board of Trustees for final approval to begin an $80.6 million construction project on the
south end zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium that will raise its capacity to more than 101,000 seats.
The project will enclose the stadium and should be finished in time for the 2010 football season.
The expansion will mirror the north end-zone, with video scoreboards in the corners.
UA athletic director Mal Moore announced the proposal - which is aimed at securing the final
of four stages of approval from the BOT - during a press conference at Bryant-Denny Stadium on
the eve of National Signing Day.
Citing an "unbelievable demand for tickets" and this past season's success as reasons behind
expansion, Moore said a waiting list for tickets had grown to more than 10,000 people.
"There's no question the excitement of coach (Nick) Saban coming in and the success of the
team this past year has made a difference in our decision," Moore said.
Included in the expansion will be 8,500 upper-deck seats, 1,700 club seats, 36 luxury suites at a
$500,000 pledge apiece, an upper concourse with restrooms, Crimson Tide Foundation offices, a
Donors Hall of Fame and an outdoor market on street level for food and merchandise. It will also
increase seating for UA students, Moore said.
The new addition will bring the stadium's edge near Bryant Drive but not alter the current
street alignment. A fixed fee of $2,584,950 has been approved to pay Davis Architects, which will
be in charge of the project. Moore said the expansion will not rely on public funds.
Work on the south end zone would begin this spring and be timed so that Alabama can use the
stadium for the 2009 season. There will be a few changes. For instance, Moore said the current
south end zone scoreboard would not be in place next season. (Mobile Press Register)
BIDS ON BRYANT-DENNY COME IN LOWER THAN EXPECTED
April 23, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - An expansion to Bryant- Denny Stadium should cost about $15 million less
than expected. Construction bids came in below what University of Alabama administrators predicted when they asked trustees for approval of the project in February.
The roughly 9,000-seat expansion to the stadium's south end zone should cost $65.6 million
instead of the $80.6 million originally estimated.
With construction projects drying up during the recession, those who are building are finding
heavy competition - and lower prices - for their projects.
The $15 million savings could be passed along to other athletic programs, with basketball being
a strong possibility, officials said.
Construction on the stadium has begun, and the expansion should be ready for the 2010
season. It's being paid for up front through debt, but is expected to eventually pay for itself.
Trustees also approved a $2 million scoreboard for Coleman Coliseum, replacing the
scoreboards on both ends of the basketball arena with a center-court scoreboard. It will be paid for by the Crimson Tide Foundation, the nonprofit arm of UA athletics, and should be installed before next season.
The scoreboard will hang above center court with four video screens and a scrolling score
display circling the bottom. Replacing the scoreboards on top of the stands on the east and west
sides of the arena will be four, static-display scoreboards in the corners. With the removal, the view from the club-level gathering area should improve.
ALABAMA HAS MANY OPTIONS FOR SALES REVENUE
January 21, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - The University of Alabama scored big during its championship run in sales of
team merchandise. Steiner Sports of New York has the rights to market the Crimson Tide's products.
The company will harvest a portion of the Bryant-Denny sod, freeze-dry it and distribute 3-inch-by-3-inch squares inside a glass display case for $79.99 plus shipping costs. The freeze-dried stadium grass industry was created by Steiner when it chopped up and sold the playing field at old Yankee Stadium before demolition began.
The Steiner Web site lists 26 other products in its Alabama championship collection. Products range from replica BCS crystal football trophies, picture frames with replica game tickets and sets of four coasters featuring "an actual swatch of a game-used jersey in the center." The partnership between Steiner and the university calls for both parties to share revenues from the sales.
A few bigger-ticket items are still in the works and would be sold at auction when and if they're obtained, the company said.
The carpet from the team locker room featuring the script "A" was just purchased by Steiner and will be sold to the highest bidder. The company is also working on buying the goal posts from the Rose Bowl where the Tide beat Texas 37-21 on Jan. 7 to wrap up the national title.
The one product not found in Steiner's sale is the grass from the Rose Bowl. Stadium Associates, a former vendor of Steiner's, snatched up the valuable turf. That group removed the grass from the old Yankee Stadium before being sold by Steiner, but this time they're on their own.
A 3x3 piece of the championship game grass sells for $99 a pop on the Stadium Associates Web site. Buyers have the choice of purchasing grass from either of the end zones or the midfield logo or a collection of all three for $249.
ALABAMA PAYING $2.2 MILLION FOR NON-CONFERENCE MATCHES
September 8, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Huntsville, Ala. - Alabama is paying three visiting teams a combined $2.2 million this season
for Non-Conference games, an increase of 47 percent over the $1.5 million that it spent last season, the Huntsville Times reported.
Kent State received $1.2 million for playing in Alabama's season opener at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Last season, San Jose State received $900,000 to be the Crimson Tide's opening opponent.
Alabama also is paying North Texas $600,000 for a Sept. 17 game and Georgia Southern $400,000 for a Nov. 19 game, according to contracts obtained by the newspaper through a public records request.
Last season, Alabama paid Penn State $200,000 and Georgia State $400,000. Alabama received $200,000 last season for playing a game at Duke. It will receive $200,000 for playing next week at Penn State.
Alabama originally was scheduled to play Louisiana Monroe on Sept. 10 as part of a Sept. 7, 2004 contract that called for 2006, 2007 and 2011 games at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama paid ULM $600,000 for each of the first two games and was due to pay $550,000 for this year's game.
Last year, Louisiana Monroe paid $500,000 to back out of the deal and then agreed to play Saturday at Florida State for $1.3 million. The school also will get $1.05 million for playing Sept. 24 at Iowa.
Kent State originally was scheduled to play Saturday at Purdue. To cancel that game, it paid Purdue $425,000 out of the $1.2 million it is getting from Alabama to cancel and thus will net $775,000.
TRUSTEES HALT ALABAMA STADIUM PLAN
November 3, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Birmingham, Ala. - The University of Alabama, Birmingham football program has not
generated enough fan support or money to justify building an on-campus stadium, the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees said.
After taking UAB's proposal for an approximate $75 million, 30,000-seat stadium off the agenda for its trustees meeting, the board issued what the Birmingham News called a blunt written statement:
"A majority of the Board believes that an on-campus football stadium is not in the best interest of UAB, the University System or the State," it said. "It is the Board's duty to be responsible stewards of the limited resources available for higher education. In these difficult economic times of rising tuition and decreasing state funds, we cannot justify the expenditure of $75 million in borrowed money for an athletic stadium which would only be used a few days each year. The UAB football program has not generated sufficient student, fan or financial support to assure the viability of this project."
The statement called it the "wrong project at the wrong time" and added that the board "remains committed to the important mission and success of the university, the medical school and the hospital for the benefit of UAB students and the State of Alabama."
The decision came after UAB officials completed an on-campus stadium feasibility study by athletics director Brian Mackin and vice president for financial affairs Richard Margison. The study, which was circulated to board members, included a debt service of $60 million that would be repaid over 30 years. The annual debt service payment was calculated at $3.88 million.
Projected operating revenue ranged from $5,782,723 in the first year to $6,875,635 in the 10th year. The ticket revenue portion was based on season ticket sales of 7,272 and single-game ticket sales of 16,060.
"I forwarded for consideration by the Board of Trustees the information on our proposed on-campus stadium," UAB President Carol Z. Garrison said in a statement .
"My responsibility is to make the best recommendations I can, based on the information that I have available to me. The responsibility of the Board includes reviewing the information and making their best individual and collective judgments. In this case the judgment was not to entertain this item."