Thursday, September 18, 2008

Board to hear about stadium project

The Jacksonville State board of trustees will meet this morning to get an update on the Paul Snow Stadium/dormitory project. Money and manure are expected to be the major topics.
The school is looking to expand the stadium’s seating capacity to accommodate a possible move to the Football Bowl Subdivision. The renovation also is to include space for 400 dorm rooms as the school moves closer to its goal of 10,000 students.
University president Bill Meehan told the faculty senate Monday the project now is likely to cost around $40 million, about an $8 million increase in the initial estimate.
He called the figure “doable.”
Another potential snag is the fact Jacksonville’s city sewage system isn’t likely to be capable of handling the increased waste.
“I don’t think any problem is insurmountable,” board president Jim Bennett said Thursday.
The biggest problem, however, may be funding. A recent study indicated that many favored the idea of expanding the stadium, but a majority of respondents were not in favor of paying for it.
“If you looked at the marketing study, I don’t know who’s going to pay for it; the way they’re going to come up with this money,” faculty senator Paul Beezley said. “The dorm need to be built, there’s no doubt about that … but I feel like we’re being told we can’t have one without the other.
“The marketing study said 57 percent of the people supported it, but practically nobody talked about giving money or expressing an issue in doing it. It appears it’s widely held that this is a vanity project and it’s designed specifically so that when the (NCAA) moratorium is over we can move up. It’s al being driven by moving up.”
University officials continue to maintain the improvement to their athletic facilities will occur whether the school decides to move the football program up or not.
Despite all the mixed signals, Bennett is confident the project will become a reality.
“This project is a go from the outset,” Bennett said. “It’s a work in progress.”

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