Cincinnati's historic Nippert Stadium will undergo a major renovation and expansion, thanks to the formal approval by the UC Board of Trustees on Tuesday.
According to the official release, no University general funds will be used for the project, which will cost an estimated $80-$85 million. Instead, the athletic department will "utilize private donations and premium seating revenues" to fund the project.
"This transformational campaign will allow us to create critical new revenue streams to benefit all 19 sports programs through the sale of premium seating opportunities while also improving a variety of fan amenities such as concessions, restrooms and concourse traffic flow," Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock said.
"Every fan, donor, alumnus and student who attends a game beginning in 2015 will benefit from the scope of this project. This project exemplifies our desire to develop a top-notch college football gameday experience and compete with the nation's elite. We are going to enhance an already strong home-field advantage by wrapping in the west side of the stadium. Nippert Stadium is an integral part of our brand at UC and this project should make a strong statement as to our overall direction as a department and university. Our future is bright, and it's a dynamic time to be a Bearcat."
Design work is ongoing, but the school estimates that Nippert Stadium's capacity will increase from 35,000 to approximately 40,000 when the project is completed in August 2015.
The renovation will take place on both the east and west side of the stadium. A new press box will be built on the west side, along with new suites, club seats and patio/suits/loge boxes. Both sides of the stadium will get renovated concourses, with new concession stands and bathrooms.
It's possible that all 2014 home games will need to be moved because of the construction. Cincinnati has used the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium as an alternate site for home games, but the school hasn't yet decided how to handle the one-year transition during the project.
"We have 26 months to get this done and we want to get it right," Babcock said. "We look forward to beginning this exciting chapter in our history and communicating with our fan and donor base regularly along the way."
Opened in 1924, Nippert Stadium is one of the oldest FBS stadiums still in use. The demand for an upgrade to the facilities has come hand-in-hand with the Bearcats' rise over the last decade. Cincinnati has claimed four Big East titles in the past five years, and the school is set to receive some of the exit fee money from all the Big East defections in the last three years. The Bearcats are poised to become one of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference, but the upgrade to Nippert Stadium will help them compete on the recruiting trail against the rest of the nation.