April 4, 2012
Vice President for University Athletics Steve Patterson
"Thanks for everybody coming out here today. What we wanted to do was get together and bring you up to speed on what we've been working on with Sun Devil Stadium and where we're trying to head with the re-development of this stadium. I got here about nine months ago and one of our first charges was to take a look at the work that has been done trying to renovate Sun Devil Stadium. What I found really was a design and a cost structure that we didn't think would probably be sustainable. It is important that we figure out how to get a new stadium here built and we want to make sure we stay on this site. It's an iconic spot, one of the iconic spots in all of college football. We want to be close to the student body, and to be able to honor the heritage and the folks that have worked here for so many years, but we have to operate in a world that is very competitive out there in terms of revenue generation and the kind of fan amenities and student athlete amenities that the other schools in the Pac-12 have.
"If you look at what's gone on in the Pac-12 in the last ten years or so, there's been nearly 1.3 billion dollars worth of construction put into football stadiums in this conference, and that's not unlike what's gone on in the rest of the country. So whether it's what's going on at Cal right now, or UW, or what's gone on at Oregon or Stanford in the not too distant past, we have to compete in this conference. Revenues are going up in those schools and costs are going up across the board. We want to be competitive and have the best coaches we can hire, have the best services for our student athletes, have the best services for our fans, alumni, and former players that played here; we need to compete with that.
"We've been working on plans since I got here and I think we have something that is a path that ultimately could be executed. We hope to be in a position, right now we're doing a number of market studies, looking at the potential donor base, looking at the potential base of business for suites and club seats and ticket seats, and putting together that plan of finance. We hope to have our plan of finance together before the end of the first half of the year, so in the June time frame. Then in that point in time we can look at what we're going to do in terms of the exact sequencing of the construction. In these sorts of situations you have two directions you can go. The traditional college model that you see at most of the universities in the country is the sequential kind of renovation and that is an option for us. If go down that road it probably is a four or a five-year time frame to execute that.
"This site that we're sitting on is a very unique site, it's holy ground for certain people, it's been a great site for football for many years, but it's a very tight site. We're caught between two buttes, one on the east and the west, and the Carson Center here on the south. Really the only way in or out of here is through the north end zone, so if we're going to go down the road of a renovation, or even if we do it in one fell swoop we'd have to come in from the north end zone. The thinking that we have right now is that you'd take down the east side of the building, everything from the main concourse up, then start to rebuild it from the south back to the north. Then the following season you'd come in and take down the left side of the building from the north to south, then rebuild it from south back to north. Then look at the lower bowl, look at what we'd like to have is ultimately a roof on this facility so we can have shade, and better temperature control, and be able to play games earlier in the day, as is probably going to be required given the upcoming Pac-12 requirements for television. So, that's sort of the initial thought on phasing this construction.
"The other approach is that we'd have to move out for a couple of years and go play elsewhere. Given where we are with our student body and the great support we've had out of the student body this past year and given the history of this site, that's probably not the preferred outcome. It is one that we're studying and will look at and could potentially happen in the future if we decide we can accelerate the project enough to get it done in a short enough time frame to have it make sense. It's not an easy site to build in one fell swoop and it probably would require us to be out for two years. We're looking at options to make that happen quicker. There's a considerable amount of remediation that has to take place to Sun Devil Stadium given that parts of it are 50, 60 years old. If we decide that direction that is a possibility. I know a lot of people have had questions about where we're headed and about what our thought process is, and what they're interests are in the facility, so we thought we'd show you the design concepts that we have and post them on the web a little bit later."
On the design concept:
"As you can see from the shot on the left, this is the fabric roof we're thinking about to have that would give us the shade in the facility, it would still be an open-air stadium. We would have the north end zone open looking back towards Carson, so this is the view from the north end zone that would be open looking back into the facility. The upper deck about 24 feet above the lower bowl with a mezzanine level in between where we could have premium seating and suites and clubs and the kind of seats that drive considerable revenue and that you're seeing at all the high end stadiums, arenas and ballparks that are built these days. The phasing allows us to build those areas out pending the funding as it comes online, be it from the district or from other revenue streams. [It] allows us a lot of flexibility as we go forward and look to add different seating areas, respond to the marketplace and build something that is really a great amenity for our fans, for the coaching staff and all our players, and to really help build something that helps Coach Graham as he goes forward with his program."
On the cost of tearing down Sun Devil Stadium versus phasing:
"We think they're probably roughly in the same range; we don't have an exact cost. We're still in those studies, but I don't think it's going to be that dramatically different to go one direction or another in terms of the actual construction costs. We haven't set an exact budget yet, we're in that stage right now and a lot's going to depend on what happens when we actually start the demolition."
On stadium renovations:
"This end would remain basically the same, the North end would be open so that you have views on the lake and be able to get some breeze through there. People tell me that in the old days, before that end zone went up, before Todd and I were born, that they were able to raise it up through there. Opening it up gives us some flexibility for certain events. If we need more bleachers or additional seating, additional amenities, and also allows us to have a more open area and positive environment. Do you strip the number down? I would expect that we would have a smaller capacity; we probably don't need as many seats as we really have out there, quite frankly. If you look at most of the college stadiums within the smaller range, you're looking at between 55-60,000-seat range. We averaged 59,000 students last year for our attendance, so it is more likely that we will need fewer seats. Part of the reason for that is that we want to have better amenities, more tread depth, more legroom in the facilities. Once you start doing that you get around 25 to 26 inches between seats and you start adding anywhere from 6 to 9 inches per tread, multiple that by 30 rows in the lower bowl, start pushing that depth and that building out pretty considerably up against the buttes on both sides. It is going to be tough to maintain the same capacity and keep it in the same box between the buttes."
On renovations to the lower bowl:
"That is one option we are looking at completely replacing in one of the phases. If we do go with that phase in the early approach it would probably stay in tact, because you could build around it and try to maintain stadium capacity. Certainly over the course of four or five years, the seating capacity is going to vary from year to year. However, replacing those seats, compared those seats compared to the rest of the building is fairly inexpensive, because it is slab on a grade. We will also have some sort of historical issues to deal with as well."
On the student section:
"You know, students are a very important part of what we do here, I was really excited to see the response we had this year, with the largest student body attendance that we have ever had in the history of ASU. Ultimately, what would be great is if we could find a way for the student body and the band to have an area where they could operate together and as we look at that, that is another phase that we are looking at potentially with the stadium. It is critical to us that we maintain the student attendance that we have had in the past."
On the addition of a roof to Sun Devil Stadium:
"It is fixed, it would be fixed, it would be a fabric roof. We are not worried about snow loads or rain. We are really looking for shade. If you're sitting in the shade versus sitting our in the sun, you're going to feel about 15 degrees cooler, because you're not going to have the sun on you. We want to continue to have the outdoor field to the facility and have it be open to Tempe town lake, so you'd be able to get more breeze through there and have an outdoor feel. The fabric is suspended across the top and would be hooked up to the outside of the upper bowl on either side."
On relocation options:
"Well we would not go play in Tucson. But we will entertain those discussions and those business plans as we go forward."
On relocation discussions:
"We have not gotten in to depth with either of those approaches. What we want to do is try to find a stadium path that works for us and be able to evaluate options based on economics, based on what matters to the student body, what matters to the University as a whole, the traditions that we have we and so we are in that process right now."
On funding options:
"Well certainty we have to look at it, we are doing certain studies to sort of the philanthropic community. As I said, we're doing current studies to look at the philanthropic communities and what the marketplace is for premium seating, we certainly have the new television revenue that's coming on line. And what can we generate internally in terms of additional revenues. We hit budget last year for the football season with three games to go s o we've made a lot of progress with football. And we're going to continue to look at all the different financing options and revenue streams that ultimately could support this. But we don't want is to wind up in a situation where we're house poor and we have to have an economic plan that allows this building to be built and to throw out the kind of revenues we need to drive a first class Sun Devil Athletic Department."
On potential bond options:
"We're certainly going to look at that and when we have plan in place and we'd like to get that it place in June. Then we'll have to sit down with all the proper authorizes and have those kind of discussions and really present a plan that makes sense, not only with the university but also with the Board of Regents. There are certain options that thankfully are there in the long run with the district that's in place to use revenues off of that and to help bond and build the sports facility and ultimately when that comes online we'll be using those."
On potential season ticket prices:
"Well ticket prices are going to change it's just a fact of life. They have to change if we want to continue to be competitive in the Pac-12. We have operated around the bottom three in the conference in terms of revenue and quite frankly we have to get them up. I'm not going to dodge that but it's the matter of do people get value for their ticket purchases. We're talking about dramatically different amenities: far more restrooms, far more restrooms, vertically transpiration with elevators, escalators, ramps that are ADA compliant, a service culture that right now we're working the Disney Institute to put into place for the upcoming season, having nice clubs and suites, the kind of things that we traditionally haven't had. We really need to bring the entire experience up to what the fans are used to with all the other great facilities that are here in the valley."
Head football coach Todd Graham
On rennovations and recruitment:
"We're extremely excited about it. What is does is show our commitment here and we want to have this program to be about winning championships and it puts us up there with the recruiting aspect. For our players and motivation for our staff, we've got a tremendous vision here to be champions and this facility is going to be one that is going to enhance recruiting big time. To have one of the best collegiate facilities and stadiums on the West Coast will only help up to be out front and be champions. It is exciting for our students and I think that our plans to have projection of the south end zone with the band. I am looking to grow that student section, because that is what dominates game day. For the media, for our fans, for our students, for our players, for our future players. This facility is going to be built in a way that is going to honor our past and be able to have the great tradition of our football program displayed in the stadium. It is just going to be a tremendous venue for us to be able to move forward as a program. It is something I am very excited about and our team has a chance to share this with our players yesterday. They were extremely excited about it and it speaks volumes that our players are investing in a program that expects to be champions."
On future recruting efforts:
"I have not even thought about any of that, I just know that everything about this project and everything about today and announcing this is going to do nothing but enhance recruiting. I can tell you that our guys that are going to be seniors next year are excited about this stadium and what it means and what it means to the Sun Devil Nation. It is a big giant step forward in every regard, nothing but positive."