What has seemed like a pipe dream since the founding of the University of South Alabama's football program in 2009 appears to finally be coming to fruition: the program is (very likely) getting an on-campus stadium.
MOBILE, Ala. -- What has seemed like a pipe dream since the founding of the University of South Alabama's football program in 2009 appears to finally be coming to fruition: the program is (very likely) getting an on-campus stadium.
University president Tony Waldrop has been authorized to start accepting bids for the construction of the stadium following unanimous approval from the University of South Alabama Board of Trustees Friday afternoon.
The proposed cost estimated for the project is $73 million with construction aimed at being completed in 2020 if things go according to plan. The proposed location is where the school's intramural athletic fields currently sit, in close proximity to the football offices and practice facilities.
Seating capacity is aimed at 25,000 initially with construction allowing for additions to be made down the line to bring that number up to 40,000, according to athletic director Joel Erdmann.
It was made clear by many parties at the meeting that tuition costs will not be affected by the cost of the stadium. The plan is to receive funding from private and corporate donations as well as repurposed athletic funds. The school has also reached out to the city and county governments for pledges between $5 million and $10 million each.
An on-campus stadium has the potential to have a far-reaching and beneficial affect on the University. From campus life, to enrollment numbers, athletic recruiting and much more, the stadium won't just help the football program; it has the potential to further entrench South Alabama as a leader in higher education.
Since the program’s inception, home games have been played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in downtown Mobile. While the stadium holds a great deal of history, it's over 70 years old now and has seen better days. It's hard to be respected as a program when the visiting teams play in a stadium that is largely behind the times and in need of more renovations than it's worth.
Along those same lines, USA has laid groundwork for the city to enter into talks with the Senior Bowl and Dollar General Bowl to play host for their games once the stadium is complete. If either or both partnerships come to pass, the school and community would benefit exponentially.
The community and fan base have been clamoring for this moment for nearly a decade now. While the wait isn't over, seeing a finish line should definitely lift everyone's spirits.
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