More Details On Nippert Stadium Renovation Revealed

Joe Robbins

Beacuse the renovation of Nippert Stadium is the coolest thing since ever. Since ever.

A ton of new details available in this article.

"There’s a lot of people to study. You don’t have to be the smartest person to figure it out. Kansas State is a project that we looked at a lot. Missouri is doing some stuff, so obviously I had some relationships there. It doesn’t take much to call some people and ask them, what did you price (premium seats) at? What sold and what problems did you have?"

The new pavilion will have three levels – a club level, a suite level and a press level that will also include suites and coaches boxes. Naming rights will be sold for each level. UC already has commitments for the suites and loge boxes, but has yet to begin its push to sell approximately 1,500 club seats.

The original plans called for 23 suites at an annual cost of $40,000 or $50,000 per year, but UC’s research showed that Virginia Tech succeeded by building larger suites near the 50-yard line and charging $100,000. So the design was changed to include 18 suites at the higher cost. Instead of producing $920,000 a year, they will produce $1.8 million.

"It was really the board and the president who said if we’re going to do the west side we ought to do some work on the east side as well," Babcock said. "They had the vision for that. The east side was not on my radar."

When fans exit the upper deck on the east side, they’ll still have the option of walking down to the present concourse area as they do now, but after the renovation they’ll have the additional option of walking across a bridge to a brick plaza that will be located inside the stadium boundary.

The Sheakley Lawn, currently located outside the stadium, will become part of the stadium footprint and will be used for fan activities before the game. A wrought-iron fence will extend to the left field wall of Marge Schott Stadium so the east side concourse can be expanded. New concession spaces will be carved into the Varsity Village parking garage.

Of all of this new info the most interesting to me is the change to the design of the suites, making them larger but decreasing the total. My understanding is that final sizes of a couple of boxes are still being ironed out.

Perhaps the most important info is the changes coming to the east side of the stadium. The thousands of people in the intersection of the Venn diagram of "DTD readers" and "people who have been to a game at the nip" know exactly what I am talking about .

For a start the gameday footprint is going to become much, much larger. This is what the layout is currently on gameday.



And this is the proposed new layout.


Obviously it expands the footprint by a factor of three or so. As such getting to your seat on the east side was a 10 minute game of pin ball from the moment you entered the stadium's footprint to you find your seat. After renovation you enter the grounds, head in the general direction of your section and find your seat in 5 minutes or less*.

*Purely a guess, don't hold me to that.

More than that having two levels of concourse on the east side will make getting to your seat so much easier, particularly for those who sit in the pavilion. Post renovation the lower concourse will be covered to some degree. These diagrams will show the general shape of the idea.

Lower concourse

Plaza level

My guess is that the elevated concourse winds up being much larger than diagrammed. Think of a mall with two levels. The plaza level will "cover" the lower concourse, but both levels will feel very connected and apart of the same space. As its diagrammed the two levels look to be completely separate, and I just can't imagine that flying on a campus that built a building that looks like the prow of a ship because it could. There is an architectural legacy to live up to here.

I am reasonably certain that the cost increase from the original 70 million figure from the December press release to the current 86 million dollar tally is due in large part to that east side redevelopment. There are a lot of billable hours to an architecture firm for simply designing an approach to that part of the project.

This is not particularly relevant, but I found this tidbit to be interesting.

Babcock, who emphasized that the project has been very much a team effort from across the university community, began with a request to see if any plans had been done for Nippert before his arrival. There were several versions, including one that would increase seating capacity to 50,000 or 60,000 but would be much more costly. Babcock zeroed in on the one that focused on the west side of the stadium, next to Tangeman University Center, because it was significantly less expensive than the other options while still fitting the school’s needs.

(Emphasis added) That design would obviously be this alien monster, a design that has been bandied about for years but was, apparently torpedoed by BK at first site because it was hilariously expensive, and didn't include any new luxury seating, let alone a pressbox.

On a tangential if related note UC and the Bengals are close to reaching terms on UC playing at PBS for the 2014 season. Whit is hopeful that the terms will be better than they were in 2011.

"It should be a little better arrangement," Babcock said. "When you’re on campus, you control the parking, the tickets, the concessions and all the sponsorships. When you go downtown, somebody’s going to take a cut. The Bengals take a cut of tickets and concessions and if they have exclusive (advertising contracts), you have to refund some money.

"Next year will be a tough one, but for a one-year situation, we’re thankful to the Bengals for offering to work with us. They’ve done some things with the percentages. (The agreement) is practically finished. They’ve been really good to work with."

Lets not forget just how bad those percentages were for UC. And just in case there are any PBS backers still out there lets let Whit drop the mic.

"We did surveys and while people liked going to Paul Brown here and there it was overwhelming in favor of Nippert Stadium. The financial piece of moving downtown was not a long-term solution. Playing in a 35,000-seat stadium, even without the renovation, was more financially viable than moving downtown."

If I had a gif of Whit Babcock dropping the mic I would seriously put it right here. Someone has to come through with that for me. The world will be better for it. Exciting times for bearcats everywhere, even if we are completely screwed from a conference perspective.

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