Bill Koch, the Cincinnati Enquirer's resident sullen UC Bearcat reporter spent the past week looking into Nippert Stadium published this piece in the Sunday Enquirer. It isn't really ground breaking, doesn't have any really new information or a point of view that hasn't been discussed and dissected on Bearcat Banter, Bearcat Lair, Bearcat News or any of the other UC centric forums a thousand times. But it is an aggregate of all of the ideas and discussion that has taken place about Nippert Stadium and where it's future lies. There were a couple bits that I found to be very enlightening though.
The goals of the architectural study, done for UC by HNTB, are:
To add 10,000 to 15,000 seats; add 30 to 40 suites; add 400 club seats; expand accommodations for the media; improve circulation and relieve congestion; expand and improve spectator amenities; and increase accessible seating.
Unless I am very much mistaken that is the first time the comprehensive goals for any expansion of Nippert Stadium have been published publicly. I would be happy with any expansion that would match all of those goals, very happy.Practically speaking I think that an expansion of capacity in the area of 45,000 total is about the best that can be hoped for. Given the physically restraints of the site going much larger than that would begin to approach the law of diminishing returns.
Those goals become more challenging because of other objectives, such as maintaining the view corridors into the stadium from CCM Plaza and from the intersection of Corry Boulevard, Varsity Drive and CCM Boulevard; maintaining the view corridor into the stadium from Bearcat Plaza adjacent to the Tangeman University Center, and maintaining views from the athletic offices in Lindner Center.
This is an example of placing needless constraints on a problem. Is it cool on game day to walk towards Nippert Stadium and see the stadium start to rise up from the horizon, yes. Is it absolutely vital to protect this view?
No. The same thing goes when approaching Nippert from the other side of the Dieterle Vocal Arts Center.
Yeah it is cool to descend into Nippert Stadium from the higher elevations on the South side of the stadium but it isn't of vital importance to protect those viewpoints. Putting in those kind of requirements is needlessly making what is already going to be a difficult project that much harder.
The study, which McGrew emphasized is not a plan, lists several different schemes, with seating capacity as high as 44,798 in one.
But the scheme listed as the study's final recommendation calls for a seating capacity of 38,692, with 800 new club seats on the east side, 32 new suites on the west side with 16 seats each, 50 loge boxes on the east side with 16 seats each, 1,100 Dieterle Center club seats, 2,520 new upper-deck seats on the west side and 7,200 new upper deck seats on the east side.
(emphasis added) I do understand that the primary limitation of Nippert Stadium right now is the lack of revenue generating facilities (read luxury seating) and that the proposed recommendation meets said requirement. But to increase seating capacity by just over 3,500 seats in total is moronic. UC will have one chance to renovate Nippert and needs to act accordingly. If they build in a contingency and make further expansion in the range of 45,000 plus a possibility then fine, start small and plan for the bigger option as well. But to tear down the pavilion on the east side and replace it with a smaller structure seems to be plenty stupid to me.
For now, her emphasis is to study the west concourse near the Tangeman Center.
"This seems to be something worth considering," McGrew said. "It could hold a lot of revenue-generating seating. It maybe could connect to TUC, we don't know, but it has the capacity to house some special seating. We also want to look at some of these historical walls that are part of our charm but may restrict the concourse. Could we move them out a little bit?"
This is easily the most interesting part of the article to me. One of the problems with expanding Nippert is that the area immediately behind it has to remain open as a fire access lane and there is also the matter of the loading dock for TUC being accessed from the same area. But the only area that is feasible for a large scale expansion is the west side of the stadium, but by creating access through TUC you can build a big expansion on that side of the stadium and more or less contain those areas. All that you would have to do is knock out the current press box which is small, outdated and out of touch architecturally with the remainder of campus build a level of suites or loge boxes on the edge of the current bowl. Build a second level on top of that structure to house coaches boxes and the media and then build an upper deck on top of that structure which would be accessible from TUC. You then have a modern and up to date look for the press box area, one that fits in with the rest of the main street development. Expanded luxury and general seating in more or less the same footprint while not effecting the fire lane behind the stadium. That is the plan that should be taken.
There are some UC fans who would see the team move down to Paul Brown Stadium. I am not among them. I say expand Nippert, and do it right and keep UC Football on Campus. Ask Minnesota how their move to the Metrodome in 1982 worked out. They tried for nearly a decade to get Football back on campus before they opened TCF Bank Stadium last fall. UC has one of the most unique settings in the sport and a tremendous home field advantage because, why throw that away to save a couple bucks by moving to the antiseptic Paul Brown Stadium when a correctly done expansion can enable the UC athletic department to become self sufficient for the first time in a long time.