Nippert Stadium Renovation Providing A Fundraising Boost

On the day that Whit Babcock announced the renovation and expansion of Nippert Stadium he brought up an idea. He actually brought it up several times. In its most eloquently stated, and possibly redundant form it is as follows.

The main reason why we are doing this project is to change the financial model in the athletic department. The current financial model we have in the athletic department is both challenging and probably unsustainable. That is the key reason, to change our financial model. Yes, we want to increase the fan experience, but we really want to change the financial models. We want to compete on the highest level, that’s been said before, but if we want to change as a department and improve we cannot simply do what we have always done.

That the University of Cincinnati needed to change the way it did business in the athletic department has never exactly been a secret. The topic has provided with a long standing and generous muse. With the Nippert renovation well underway some questions about just how dramatically the new structure will affect the bottom line. On Saturday Doctor Ono gave an indication of the financial impact this project is going to have.

The 40 million dollars is great, but that is payment for services to be rendered, namely the ability for several select donors to watch the Bearcats do battle from the comfort of a climate controlled skybox. The project wouldn't be happening without such well heeled boosters, but the most important point is that UCATS has 1,000 more donors than it did a year ago.

I would be stunned if there has ever been a larger single year increase in number of donors since UCATS was founded in 1979. The final four run in 1992 might have had a similar impact, same for the Orange Bowl run under Brian Kelly. But this influx of donors has little to do with what happened on the floor or on the court, its about getting a good spot in line for a club or a loge seat. The best part of all is that anyone who wants a spot in the new tower has to keep giving to keep their spot. That is what changes the model, its not the initial outlay of money for a suite or a club seat. Its that to keep that seat the money has to keep flowing, consider this.

The fourth floor of the press tower will include 18 founders suites that hold somewhere between 22 and 26 people. To secure a founders suite a person or a group must make a 10 year commitment, agreeing to pay 100,000 per year for the right to the suite. Rough math makes that a nice round 18 million dollar total over the first 10 years of the stadium. 18 million dollars that is being generated from a mere 500 seats, and thats just for one part of the addition, albeit the most expensive portion.

There remains a subset of Bearcat Nation who maintain that renovating Nippert Stadium will prove to be a mistake. That the money being spent would be better served in renovating Fifth Third Arena, but that is madness. There is simply nothing that could be done to Fifth Third Arena for less than 100 million dollars that would generate anything close to the returns that New Nippert will.

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