Rutgers approves expanded football stadium

January 29, 2008 12:15:00 PM PST
Rutgers University on Tuesday approved spending $102 million to expand its football stadium by 14,000 seats in a move that university leaders hope will further improve Rutgers' national profile. The plan approved by the university's governing board will boost the stadium's seating capacity to 56,000.

The plan calls for borrowing $72 million that will be repaid through increased ticket revenues. The other $30 million is to come from private donations raised through a campaign led by Gov. Jon S.

Corzine and state Sen. Raymond Lesniak.

"The continued success of the Scarlet Knights football program is an important goal for the university," said Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick. "Academics and athletics reinforce each other and Rutgers is committed to excellence in both endeavors."

McCormick said no public money will be used and the project will have no affect on tuition and academic programs.

"We are not taking funds from another area of the university to pay for the expansion," McCormick said.

The once-woebegone Rutgers football program has experienced a resurgence, including three consecutive bowl appearances and 26 wins in three seasons.

Construction is expected to begin soon, with about 1,000 new mezzanine seats added to the existing structure by the start of the 2008 season. Another 1,000 bench seats will be added to the north end zone and 12,000 new seats built as part of a new south end zone section.

Plans also call for a new entrance off River Road and for upgrading the sound system, scoreboard, video screen and new elevators, concession stands and restrooms.

The full project is to be completed by fall 2009.

Some Rutgers students have said it would be better to spend money to restore dropped classes than expand the stadium.

"Toward the end of the season, the student section was not even filled," sophomore Aaron Feibush said during a Thursday forum at the university's Piscataway campus.