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Auburn considers even more enhancements for Jordan-Hare
Feb. 8, 2015

Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs has a plan to upgrade Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  The largest video board in college athletics will be up and running this season in the South end zone at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and Auburn may not stop there with the enhancements for fans and players alike.

On the drawing board for the North end zone are plans to add premium club level seating, a state-of-the-art home locker room and recruiting lounge plus amenities for fans. The Auburn Board of Trustees told the athletic department it could hire an architect and construction manager to draw up plans and determine the cost. The trustees could vote on whether to proceed with the project later this year.

"We've done a lot of preliminary work over the last six or eight months, but now we're going to get down to the facts of what it's going to cost structurally for us to make any changes," said Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs. 

"We have to start getting structural steel drawings right now so that if we decide it's a good thing to do, it's a good business decision to make, and a good fan experience to create something in the North end zone."

The trustees approved the new video board Friday as part of a $13.9 enhancement project that will replace the old scoreboard, add a new audio system and extend the electronic ribbons that front the upper decks. Those details are here. The athletic department will pay for those enhancements.

Jacobs said the North end zone project would have to feature enhancements for the fans and be financially sound before the school would begin the work. 

"It could very well be that we start off down the path and we realize that, 'You know what, this isn't a good pro forma. It's not a good business decision. It's not the best thing for our fans.' And we decide to do nothing," Jacobs said. "I don't think that's what's going to happen, but if it is, all we've done is build some background and some drawings for the future of this stadium that we may take forward in later years, so it's not wasted work."

That work, which would begin after this season's Auburn-Alabama game if the project is approved, would not be completed until the 2017 season, but the work would not affect seating during the 2015 or 2016 seasons.

Jacobs said the video board, and the plans for the North end zone, are part of Auburn's fan-first philosophy.

"We've held our season ticket prices down for four years, but this is going to be an enhancement that moms and dads are going to have to come to because their kids are going to want to see this video board, the biggest in college football," Jacobs said.

The next stage, Jacobs said, would be "'Let's take the North end zone and let's create some amenities for people,' like some of our peers in the league have done, and done tremendously well. Let's have a place that people sitting in that North end zone can go in and get something to eat or drink. It could be the lowest level. It could be the highest level. We want to service all those levels. 

"Expanding the North concourse  we desperately need that so we create more concession stands and restrooms for our fans in the north end."

Jacobs said there is not enough room in the South end zone for expansion of the home locker room and the recruiting lounges. That's the reason they'd be moved across the stadium.

"It gives us a chance also to come in there and make the facade of the North end so much nicer, maybe with brick. I don't know if that's how it's going to turn out, but that's our vision. That's my vision: to have the best-looking stadium in college football."

Jacobs said he wanted the "state-of-the-art locker room for a football stadium." Auburn is also considering upgrading the locker room at the athletic complex  the locker room that is used during practice  as part of a future project.

"That's down the road," he said. "The thing about the stadium is, it gives us a chance to generate revenue, and when you're able to generate revenue, it gives you the opportunity to do other projects. So this is the first step. 

"This North end zone, if it comes to pass, the revenue generated off that will pay for the locker room and the recruiting lounge."

Jacobs said the upgrades to the North end zone may generate "philanthropic giving." But he said he'll stick to strict budgetary guidelines. 

"We think there'll be a great need, a great appetite for some of our donors to say, 'You know what? I'd like to give to the locker room or the recruiting lounge.' But we're not putting that as part of our pro forma," Jacobs aid. "So if some of that comes in and offsets it, then that frees up more of your debt that you could go to another facility and possibly renovate the athletic complex. 

"The athletic complex is something that some potential donors could say, 'You know what? I'd like to give you the money to renovate the athletic complex and I'd like to honor my mother or my wife or myself,' whatever it may be."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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