10 Nov 2015

Kyle Field at Texas A&M is the Most Expensive Stadium in College Sports with $485 Million in Renovations

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Texas A&M Kyle Field

Texas A&M Kyle Field

While you sit on the aluminum bleachers in your town watching your son play high school football, you might hope he gets accepted to Texas A & M. Not to your benefit as a parent, but as a spectator.

Because after $485 million in renovations, Aggieland’s Kyle Field stadium is now the most expensive stadium in college history. With a capacity of 102,733, it’s the fourth largest in in the NCAA.

This is not just a football stadium. It’s the Epcot of football stadiums. For example, inside the stadium is a 30,000 sq. ft. “Hall of Champions” with huge scoreboards and interactive screens telling fans about the school’s football history and its pair of Heisman Trophy Winners Johnny Manziel and David Crow.

In football, there are luxury suites and then there are “luxury” suites. Since Aggie students are known as the “12th Man” for their intense support of their team, the school thought it was appropriate that they create 12 super-luxury “Founders” suites for their biggest donors. Donations ranged from $5 million to $12 million.

These suites are not a room filled with some comfy chairs and a cheese plate. These suites are three stories high complete with chandeliers, double-sided fireplaces, wood floors and mahogany wood paneling. Need something? You got your own concierge standing by. Would like to hear a little music before the game? No problem, there’s a piano player too.

For those with a ton of money but not as much as the Founders, there are 24 Legacy Suites, 38 Prime Suites, 20 East Side Suites plus a President’s Suite, Chancellor’s Suite, and Board of Regents Suite.

They say Manziel, also known as “Johnny Football,” is partially responsible for creating the fervor to fund the renovations. He lead the team that beat SEC powerhouse Alabama after all. Want to know how fast those suites sold out? About as quick as it takes to read this sentence.

There are a bunch of other renovations as well. One is the addition of canopies over the bleachers to block out the sun. Guess what, those canopies just also happen to intensify the sound of screaming fans and bounces that sound back onto the field. (See previous blog on the narrow Seattle Seahawks stadium).  The Aggie’s already have a reputation for having fans who are “the most intimidating” in college football.

Another addition is the 12th Man TV Studios for television broadcasts, which cost $12 million and resembles the set of ESPN.

Now, you might wonder, why is Texas A&M spending sooooo much on a stadium. Sure, they have a history of producing top-notch teams. But the last time they won the college ranking contest was in 1939.

However, every year you can almost guarantee they’re a major contender.

But they are a SEC team, the toughest conference in college football. Kyle Field is now the largest stadium in the group. The college sees this renovation as a necessary competitive move to attract top high school players in the nation. You can bet, the other SEC teams are doing all they can to gobble them up as well.

Secondly, Texas A&M happens to be in a state where instead of oranges and grapefruit, they grow plenty of oil. That’s Texas crude paying for those insane luxury suites. The school was smart. They knew the demand and support would be there, so they enacted a successful “build it and they will come” strategy.

About $220 million was raised through private donations. The rest was generated through bonds, $20 million in city funds and $74 million in student fees. Schools officials hint they could have actually raised more if they wanted to.

Some schools can barely afford to pay for a set of new 15-row aluminum bleachers. (Perhaps there is a lesson here in sponsorships and luxury or preferred seating for any football program.)

It might be a giant cliché, but as you can see, they still do things on a grand scale in Texas. In fact, to keep with the theme of being the biggest, you can buy a gargantuan four-foot long, 12-pound “Aggie Dog” in the newly renovated food areas.

Projects such as stadiums are a major booster in terms of construction jobs, stadium jobs, tourism dollars, tax revenue and other factors. And the great thing is, because some teams are so competitive, you can be sure they are going to keep outspending each other on aluminum bleachers, locker rooms and luxury suites.

That makes local economies the big winner in all of this.









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