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Stadium News: Renovations, New Builds, Conference Realignment

New College Football Stadiums

Keep up-to-date with for all college football stadium renovation, construction news, and conference realignment.

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Stadium Renovations

Cotton Bowl Stadium

The Oklahoma Sooners’ Twitter account announced a contract extension to keep their annual Red River Shootout rivalry against Texas at the Cotton Bowl through 2036. Also announced in the presser was $140 million worth of renovations to Cotton Bowl Stadium.

The project is a “two-year renovation project that honors the Cotton Bowl Stadium’s celebrated legacy and distinctive architecture with sweeping enhancements…” Plans include widening concourses – a common problem with older stadiums – adding elevators, improved entrance/exodus, and more premium options.

The first phase includes revamping the west side of the stadium and is expected to be complete by the 2026 season. Phase two won’t be finished until 2034. That part includes “significant” renovations to the east side.

“The stadium renovations will be extensive, and we can’t wait for our fans to experience the enhancements,” commented OU Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione.

Rynearson Stadium (Eastern Michigan)

Thanks to a $1M donation made by EMU alumnus and current Las Vegas Raider Maxx Crosby, Rynearson Stadium is getting a new playing surface. The EMU athletics department confirmed this to Road to CFB, saying an announcement was coming “soon” (reported Nov. 15, 2023). The track around the stadium will be removed and it’s expected the turf will remain grey, although both of those details were not confirmed by EMU.

Folsom Field (Colorado)

Colorado announced a $15M upgrade for a new video board, one five times larger than their current board. The new build is expected to be ready by the start of the 2024 season. The Buffs will move from the Pac-12 back to the Big 12 next season, as well.

David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (Kansas)

The University of Kansas released plans Aug. 15 to renovate David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and the surrounding land. The entirety of the property plans to undergo a facelift, from the stands to the football facilities, and they will add a Gateway District. Renderings for a new locker room, player lounge, and suites for fans were released alongside the announcement.

The project begins immediately following the 2023 football season. Phase I will completely redo the stands of the stadium and that phase plans to be done by the 2025 season. The seating facelift will “lower capacity” but will still exceed 40,000. Kansas plans to raise $335 million total in funding for the renovation.

Michie Stadium (Army)

Army announced a $145M “restoration” of Michie Stadium to be completed in time for the 2025 football season. In the renderings appear to be a revamped concourse, new luxury seating options, a brand-new 162K-foot athletic facility, and a complete rebuild of the East stands. The lower stretch of stands are reserved for cadets with a “central focus” on the cadets.

A new “Victory Plaza” is also planned for visitors outside of the stadium gates.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Florida)

In July, the University of Florida confirmed they began the process to select an architect to complete a $400M renovation to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Tampa Bay Times reported that UF was looking at companies that had worked on modernization projects like Fenway Park and Lambeau Field.

While no details or timeline are yet available, Florida plans to revamp “every phase of the fan experience.” UF is the next in a long line of major programs renovating historic stadiums in the ongoing college football facilities arms race.

Valley Children’s Stadium (Fresno State)

Fresno State revealed rendering for a $250M upgrade to their athletic facilities on May 9, 2023. Included is a re-imagining of Valley Children’s Stadium (formerly Bulldog Stadium), shown in the renderings. In 2018, Fresno State tried, and failed, to renovate the stadium, which is reportedly in serious need of an upgrade.

“It’s real,” said Fresno State athletic director Terry Tumey. “We are no longer in a hypothetical mode. We understand the external pressures that we have and the changing landscape of collegiate athletics [and] we do think that by showing investment by the university and by the community speaks volumes to the nation as to the importance of our athletics enterprise to what we do as a university.”

The project begins this summer with upgrades to suites on the east side of the stadium. The rest of the project has yet to be funded and reportedly will be on a 2024 city ballot.

FBC Mortgage Stadium (UCF)

Seemingly in response to their move up to the Big 12, UCF announced plans for a “football campus.” The $50 million upgrade to the UCF campus includes a student-athlete complex, club seats, football offices, a practice field, and football “town square.” New renderings depict a lazy river on the campus of the student-athlete development center.

Phase I of the three-phase plan includes the lazy river (named “recovery river”), tailgating space, and recruiting center. Phase II includes the club seats at FBC Mortgage Stadium and football offices. The final phase, Phase III, finishes the renovation with the new training facility.

Bobcat Stadium (Texas State)

Texas State University announced a $4 million donation toward their revamped south end zone complex. The upgrades to the complex – which currently houses Texas State’s development facilities and football offices – will include a new player lounge, weight room, and premium hospitality suites. The total renovation reportedly will cost $37 million, per Texas State’s athletics website.

The San Marcos-based university joined the FBS ranks in 2013, which included a $28 million upgrade to Bobcat Stadium. The facility continues to be one of the premier stadiums in the Sun Belt.

Beaver Stadium (Penn State)

Penn State announced the intention to renovate the interior of Beaver Stadium. In May, they approved the first stage of a $700M major renovation to the venue, putting to bed rumors that Penn State was looking to replace Beaver Stadium. Like many other large renovations in college football, Penn State’s will be multi-phased and expand Beaver Stadium’s usage to non-football game days.

Part of the renovation includes fortifying the pipes in the stadium to prepare to “winterize” the facility. This comes in response to the College Football Playoff Committee announcing plans for on-campus playoff games starting in 2024.

The total renovation is expected to be completed by 2027.

Cajun Field (Louisiana)

Start remembering a new name for Cajun Field, which is to be named Lady Of Our Lourdes Stadium. Louisiana Athletics Director Bryan Maggard announced the first major renovation to the stadium since it was built in 1971. Included in the renovation:

A $15 million donation over 15 years kickstarted the project.

The Louisiana athletics department confirmed to Road to CFB that seating in 2024 will be confined to the south and east structures while the renovation goes on. The project will be complete in time for the 2025 football season.

Boone Pickens Stadium (Oklahoma State)

Initially reported in March 2022, Oklahoma State announced a $55 million renovation to the seating bowl of Boone Pickens Stadium. This renovation will be a multi-year process, happening each offseason as to not interfere with the Pokes’ football seasons. According to the release, construction began on the north side of the stadium after the 2022 season.

The new seats will increase legroom by six inches and new isles will be built to reduce the number of seats between isles. All benches will be replaced to contoured benches while “several sections” will replace benches with chair backs.

New LED lighting will be introduced to entryways and concourses.

There is no word yet on how this will affect Boone Pickens Stadium’s 60,000 existing capacity. From the verbiage, it’s possible this will reduce the number of seats in the stadium.

Nebraska Memorial Stadium (Nebraska)

The Lincoln Journal Star reported at the end of October that Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium was in need of renovations. According to Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts, the renovation project would be focused on modernizing and preserving the stadium for “the next 50 to 100 years of Memorial Stadium.”

A timeline, renderings, and costs will be released in the coming months. The report mentioned that $200 million could be privately fundraised while the cost could rise to $500 million, “if those funds can be raised,” per NU administrators.

Jones AT&T Stadium (Texas Tech)

In July 2022, Texas Tech announced a $200M project to close in the south end zone of Jones AT&T Stadium. The project includes a new athletic development center while keeping the iconic throwback double-T logo scoreboard. It will also add new premium seating options to the stadium.

The school began construction following the 2022 football season with it being anticipated to be completed in time for the 2024 season. Changes to the capacity of Jones AT&T Stadium were not disclosed in the announcement.

Neyland Stadium (Tennessee)

Neyland Stadium– which had just finished installing a new scoreboard and some fan suites– announced more improvements in June. Included are adding V-O-L-S letters to the stadium deck, a premium club, improved stadium wi-fi, and more. You can find the full list of details here.

The added improvements also add $100M to the price tag of the total renovation. The total is now estimated to be $288M. The project won’t be completed until 2026.

Jerry Richardson Stadium (Charlotte)

The current-smallest stadium in the FBS plans to double its 15,314-seating capacity. A $100M project to revamp athletic facilities– including Jerry Richardson Stadium– was announced in May. 

Not much is known about this project, but the timetable for the entire multi-phased plan is “12-15 years.” The football stadium is in Phase-I, meaning it will be prioritized ahead of other facilities. Initially, the capacity will be expanded to over 21,000 before moving to 30,000 in a second phase. Charlotte transitioned into the American Athletic Conference on July 1, 2023.

Albertsons Stadium (Boise State)

Boise State installed a new video board, the first phase of a $35M renovation to Albertsons Stadium, ahead of the 2023 season. Included in the plans include an enclosure of the north end zone, raising the capacity from 36,387 to 40,000.

While the total cost of the project has not been made public, estimates range between $32-40M, with a projected finish date in time for the 2025 football season.

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (Memphis)

The University of Memphis announced major renovations planned for Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. It’s estimated the project could cost between $150-200M, it would not only revamp the stadium experience, but the existing grounds around it.

Currently, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium sits in a more industrial and rundown part of town. This renovation would make it more fan-friendly.

It will be complete for the 2025 football season, complete with a revamp of the west side of the stadium, a complete overhaul of the east side tower, and new seating options. Parking will be revamped and an official was cited that part of the drive behind the renovation was to incorporate the multi-use of the facility.

The new grounds around the stadium will be called Liberty Park and encourage more fan engagement pre- and post-game.

Sanford Stadium (Georgia)

Georgia is again renovating the south side of Sanford Stadium, which was given a huge facelift ahead of the 2017 season. This time, the plan to add more premium seating options to the tower and add ADA gates. Currently, there’s eight gates in the planned area, which will expand to 21.

Another purpose of the renovation is to expand the concourses – a much-needed improvement to the stadium. Currently, there is 10′ 6″ of clearance and that will be expanded to 23 feet.

The $68.5M renovation was approved in late May 2022. The second phase – focused on the new tower – is expected to be finished by the 2024 season.

Falcon Stadium (Air Force)

The largest stadium renovation in the history of the Air Force Academy has been in place for a couple years, beginning in early 2020. The $180M project has already replaced two scoreboards, added ribbon scoreboards, and many other small improvements.

The next phase– and the largest by far– is underway. Upgrades to the press box, stands, away sideline, and a new heritage plaza will be added to the 60-year-old venue. This phase will cost $70M and may take up to 18 months to complete, being targeted to finish ahead of the 2024 season.

Check out the entire phased plan here.

Gerald J. Ford Stadium (SMU)

A $50 million donation from alumnus Garry Weber kickstarted a $100M renovation project to Gerald J. Ford Stadium. SMU announced the expansion plans on Jan. 21, 2022. The south end zone– which is currently an open grassy hill– will be expanded on and closed in. Per the report, the stadium’s 32,000 capacity will be expanded.

The end zone complex will feature a three-tiered setup with luxury boxes on the third tier. Since 2013, SMU has dedicated over $250M to athletic facilities. You can find the report here.

JSU Stadium (Jacksonville State)

Plans were approved in July 2022 to go forward with an $80M renovation to the Jacksonville State campus, centered around JSU Stadium. The plans include new housing and a food court for student athletes around the stadium (see below). However, an October 2022 update stated the renovation would have to be toned down.

A new press box, suites, and team offices are also in the plans. The presser quotes Greg Seitz, Jacksonville State director of athletics: “This addition will allow us to build upon one of the best game day experiences in FCS football with a redesigned seating area to include new premium seating.”

Seitz mentioned FCS football since this was before the announcement that JSU would be moving up to Conference-USA. You can find the full announcement here.

The Gamecocks joined the FBS ranks on July 1, 2023.

FirstBank Stadium (Vanderbilt)

Vanderbilt announced its largest stadium renovation in 40 years. The renovation to both end zones was originally announced in March, but renderings were revealed in November 2021. Naming rights changed the stadium name from “Vanderbilt Stadium” to “First Bank Stadium” ahead of the 2022 season.

With the renovation comes new locker rooms in both end zones, a completely revamped look to the current horseshoe, and new seating options for fans. Among the new seating options are 28 luxury boxes designed to give fans a “closer feel” to the game.

Renovations are underway with the completion date after the 2023 season.

The football stadium is just part of the athletics facilities revamp and complete details can be found here.

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