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Word From Jay

Nov. 22, 2016

Thanks to the support of Auburn University's leadership and our loyal donors, the Athletics footprint on our beautiful campus has been transformed over the past decade.

Since 2005, Auburn Athletics has invested over $200 million in facility improvements. Every sport has had either a new facility built or a major facility renovation during that span.

It is hard to believe how far we've come.

We have made numerous improvements relative to facilities in our football program, from construction of our Indoor Practice Facility to renovations to the weight room, locker room and lounge at the Athletics Complex, the daily hub of Auburn football.

And while we have invested in improvements at Jordan-Hare Stadium during the past decade as well, Auburn must seek ways to enhance the student-athlete and fan experience for our program to continue to compete at the highest levels.

As announced earlier this year, we have been engaged in a facilities planning process and feasibility study for possible renovations at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The planning process has helped us prioritize our needs and define what is feasible.

One of my priorities has been to find a way to improve the stadium while being cognizant of all of our fans, from the longtime season ticket holder who sits in the north end zone to major donors who desire more premium seating options.

While staying on the cutting edge is critical, we will not move forward with any plans that don't make sense for Auburn. Our goal is to have the best gameday experience for our student-athletes and our fans.

In studying the feasibility of a potential north end zone renovation, it became clear that the best way to move forward was to pull several individual high-priority projects out of the plans and fund them through philanthropic giving.

As a result, we now plan to seek support from the Board of Trustees early next year for renovations to accommodate an improved locker room and "Tigers Den" in the south end zone, where both are currently located, instead of moving them to the north. Both of these projects will be funded by private giving already under way. Once we have reached our fundraising goal for this project, we will take it to the Trustees to seek approval.

These items are high priorities because they directly impact the student-athlete experience and our ability to continue to recruit at the highest level.

A bigger and better Tigers Den is critical for the future of our program and the ability to attract elite prospective student-athletes. Our current lounge has served us well, but it is inadequate for our current and especially our future needs.

Recruiting rules have changed as the NCAA has recognized families have changed over the years. Present rules allow prospective student-athletes to bring more guests to games than in the past, and we must have the facilities to provide a phenomenal experience during their time in Auburn.

It's important to understand the quality of the gameday experience at Jordan-Hare Stadium impacts all of our sports, not just football. It's the best opportunity our coaches and assistant coaches have to show prospects what Auburn is all about.

We know from surveys and donor input that there is demand for additional premium seating at Jordan-Hare. That is why we are continuing to explore those options, although there will not be a north end zone expansion or any changes in seating there for the 2017 season. As you may have read, the Board of Trustees last week approved an unrelated project to widen the north endzone concourse, a project that will vastly improve the crowd flow on that end of the stadium.

While the locker room and recruiting space will be the priority projects, plans for additional premium seating and more fan amenities in the north end zone may still be brought forward in the future when the time is right and the pro forma works in a way that won't put an undue share of the cost on the backs of our grassroots fans.

Jay Jacobs

You can also follow me on Twitter at @jayjacobsauad.

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