Texas Tech's Board of Regents hopes the completion of a $25 million expansion to Jones AT&T Stadium will attract students and faculty to the university.
On Aug. 7. the board announced the expansion of the east side of Jones AT&T Stadium. Administrators believe the addition to the stadium will not only add to the appeal of the stadium, but attract students and faculty to Tech in coming years.
"This is just one of the things that's going to make Texas Tech one of the best places in the country for students to come and live and study and have a good time," Tech President Guy Bailey said.
The project is in the final stages of funding with approximately $19 million already raised. Tech Athletics Director Gerald Myers said $15 million of the $19 million was given by AT&T. He said $14 million of that donation will go toward construction and the remaining $1 million will be put into sponsorships and marketing. Administrators still need approximately $6 million to complete the fundraising project, which is expected to be raised by donations.
The board plans to continue the Spanish Renaissance style of the west side of the building with the east side expansion. There will be an addition of 500 club seats with more than 20 new suites. This is expected to increase capacity at the stadium from 52,700 to 53,700. Construction on the additions is expected to start following Tech's last home football game against Baylor on Nov. 29. The stadium is expected to be completed to some extent by 2009, said David McClure, assistant vice chancellor of communications.
Jones AT&T Stadium's current capacity is the eighth highest in the Big 12 Conference.
Tech coach Mike Leach said he believes the stadium draws more than it can hold and the expansion will only continue that trend.
"I think that you want to accommodate as many people as possible and I think this is all the result of the efforts of some great coaches before me," he said. "I think our coaching staff, our players have put together a great product on the field. I think that's a big, significant part of what's led to this."
Myers said although Jones AT&T Stadium may not be the largest stadium in the conference, it still will serve an important purpose for the university after construction is complete.
"It may not be the biggest stadium," he said, "but it will be a stadium that'll help us to continue to attract top athletes. It also helps us to attract staff members, faculty."
Bailey said he understands the correlation between a university's athletic program and enrollment. But athletics is not the only program benefitting from the expansion.
"The athletics program in general is a big draw for students," he said. "It's a big part of student life. This expansion will be a very exciting part of building our entire university and our student life."
Selling club seats and suites is a restrained plan to raise the rest of the money, Tech Chancellor Kent Hance said.
The demand for the suites is high, which Hance said helps when trying to raise the money.
"We're very conservative on something like this," he said. "We projected that if we sold half the suites, that's what it would raise and that's what it would fund. We didn't have trouble selling all the suites and we've got a waiting list long."
Administrators also believe club seats and suites add to the experience of the game for fans.
The fans' enjoyment of the current club seats and suites on the west side means the east side should be just as popular, Hance said.
"You can ask anyone that has been to a game at Texas Tech in the west side where the club suites are, that the difference it's made in just going to a football game," he said. "When you drive up that stadium on the west side, we bring investors all the time. They are overwhelmed that it doesn't look like a football stadium. It'll be the same way on the east side."
This will be the third expansion for Jones AT&T Stadium in the last eight years.
Hance said the next step of building onto the stadium includes expanding the north end. He said anywhere between 12 to 15,000 seats club seats will be added.