By Ed Enoch
The University of Alabama System board of trustees on Friday approved preliminary plans for a $75.4 million renovation of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“Part of this, too, is making sure we have the right balance of honoring our past which we are so proud of … then creating our vision for the future. This is what Phase One allows us the opportunity to do,” Athletic Director Greg Byrne said.
Byrne presented highlights of the project to the board on Friday, It includes enhancing student and fan experiences by providing new social spaces, improved circulation, additional premium seating and upgraded spaces for athletes and recruits.
The board waived the consultant selection process and approved an architectural agreement with David Architects of Birmingham, which has previously worked on the stadium and athletic facilities, for the design of the project based on a lump fee of $3.8 million.
The project will be funded with $40.4 million in bonds and $35 million from the Crimson Tide Foundation, the fundraising arm of UA athletics.
There is no current timeline for construction to start, which would come after the board approves the renderings for the project, said Tim Leopard, UA associate vice president of construction.
Alabama unveiled a 10-year, $600 million initiative called the Crimson Standard in August to upgrade the stadium, Coleman Coliseum, the Mal Moore Athletic Facility and other athletic facilities.
The department has raised about $158 million so far for the project, Byrne said.
“The momentum from it has been very positive. We have been very encouraged by that,” he said.
The stadium renovations would be part of the first of three phases of the 10-year plan. In August, Byrne indicated the project would likely reduce seating capacity in the stadium to less than 100,000, down from its current size of 101,821 seats.
He estimated it would impact about 5 percent of the seating in the stadium.
“We want to make sure there are spots for all fans to be a part of it. It is important that we provide price points for a wide variety of our fan base,” Byrne said.
The additions include a student terrace in the stadium’s south end zone with a new video board over the student section, new two-cab elevators, two new video boards and a club with a field-level in the north end zone, new top-tier boxes called the Founders Suites and other premium seating options including an open-air terrace on the west side, and the relocation of the press box to the east side of the stadium.
“At the same time too, it has become a much more social event for younger fans, and older fans too. We are trying to be proactive in our approach here,” Byrne said.
The plan also includes a new locker room and recruiting lounge in the north end zone and a renovation to the tunnel that the team uses to enter the field. The Walk of Champions would be extended into the Game Day Locker Room via a new tunnel clad with video boards. The tunnel would require the demolition of the existing stairs that lead to Gate 1.
“This is an opportunity to update that space as a focal point from a recruiting standpoint and also for our team on game days,” Byrne said of the game day locker room and tunnel.
The renovation would increase space devoted for recruiting from 6,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet, he said.
The funds generated from the first phase including the sale of luxury boxes will help fund later phases of the department’s capital plan, Byrne said.
“This is very much is a focus to where we want to do Phase One to give us the revenues to be able to do Phase Two and Phase Three with trustees’ approval so we can give our fans across the board, whether it is a Coleman Coliseum, whether it is at Bryant-Denny Stadium, a first-class experience,” he said.
Reach Ed Enoch at email@example.com or 205-722-0209.