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Gov. Elect Spitzer - Football Stadium


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I know someone on the board has been lobbying Gov. Spitzer for a new UA football stadium. I saw in the paper that he'll be taking a run through Washington Park at 6 A.M. on New Year's Day. There's a chance to lobby in person.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Are there plans for a new stadium? Meaning, anything concrete? I have heard rumors about the desire to build a stadium costing somewhere in the $50 million range, but that's all I have heard. Any news on a new football stadium?

 

Are there plans for a new stadium? Meaning, anything concrete? I have heard rumors about the desire to build a stadium costing somewhere in the $50 million range, but that's all I have heard. Any news on a new football stadium?

 

 

Nothing public has been announced, however, despite some negative thinkers on this board, there are concrete plans. The expected timeline has been said by McElroy on Murphys radio show....break ground in 12-18 months with construction taking 12 months to complete. That has the opening for the 2010 season as a realistic shot. 2009 would be a stretch. Right now they are in the middle of an environmental impact study. Something dealing with the water table level and being to have a bowl-style stadium.

 

The original plans call for a 12-15,000 seat stadium to be built in the current RACC parking lot and attached to the RACC. There are computer images in the football offices, but nothing released to the public, so we will assume they are not public as of yet and as such I don't think the details should be laid out on here.

 

The major issue is $$$. The last number I heard was about $40 million, half coming from private funding, half from state funding. The state funding will not come until the private funding is secured.

 

There is a lot of support from the capital region community. There was a poll done by the Albany Business Review, which you can search and find. However, some on the UA campus are against the idea of spending $40 mil on a stadium that they say will only ever be half-full. I, however, support the stadium fully. I believe that, while we do only get around 4,000 per game now, we will be able to get about 8000 to 10,000 per game in a nice new stadium. The lower attendance numbers we have experienced now is clearly a product of the current bleacher set-up and lack of college football "atmosphere" at the games, which will all be remedied with a new stadium.

 

That's about all we know right now.

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Well stated Danefan.

 

Fundraising is progressing and the Athletic Dept. is doing a bang up, all out job, in securing the private funding. Believe me, the SEFCU deal helped raise UA's stature in the community and is helping stadium efforts. It shows how a local business (or even national) can partner successfully in an otherwise untapped market in Albany. Don Ostrom and Mary Johnson deserve our thanks for all the work they are doing behind the scenes...FOR ALL SPORTS!!!!

 

This is not a dramatic statement, but after seeing plans (like Danefan, Ruler, and others) for the stadium I can tell you this: IT WILL RAISE THE UNIVERSITY'S PROFILE AS A "HOLY COW....THIS IS A REAL BIG-TIME SCHOOL" in the mind of many. The more our overall profile is raised, the more money that comes to the school in other areas, especially academics. Athletics, if properly marketed, can be free fund-raising for academics and those who say otherwise have NEVER worked in marketing/advertising, or in a college environment.

 

Personally, I will most likely have a tear (seriously) in my eye, as will others, when the stadium is finally completed. IT IS A BEAUTIFUL THING ON PAPER!!!!

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A New Stadium:

 

I agree with the sentiment that a new stadium will not only raise the University's profile but that we will also get many more in attendance (i.e., "if you build it, they will come"). I, for one, love UAlbany athletics, but I am ashamed to say I have never been to a UA football game. That will change this next season as I look forward to following the team! I think they are many people like me out there who have not yet been to games but who would love to start coming to the games ... . If we can pack 2,000-5,000 in at a local high school game at various venues on a Friday evening, surely we can get 15,000 on a Saturday afternoon! And that is just people from the Albany area. There typically are only 6 home games a year, so people don't mind traveling more for football as opposed to other sports (i.e., we wouldn't get 15K per hoops game because there are more home games and more games for people to select from).

 

Also, I have always loved "closed" or "bowl-shaped" stadiums. They provide a better atmosphere (more intimate as opposed to an open-styled stadium where you feel like you are out in the open) at games and project sound better. Is that what was meant by a bowl-shape stadium? Or will the corners be open (see Buffalo's stadium for an example (one of many) of a stadium that is "open" and not "closed").

 

Going Division I-A:

 

 

As far as seating goes, I truly hope that UAlbany builds a stadium that can seat at least 15,000. If one looks at the NCAA Division I Manual, "Bylaws," (Article 20: Division Membership) one will find that to go Division I-A, a school must average 15,000 per game every two years on a rolling basis. Not sure what the rolling basis means, but it's pretty clear that we need to average 15,000 persons in attendance a game (or close to it; University of Buffalo is only getting about 14,000-14,500 right now from what I hear) in order to go Division I-A. This is absolutely an attainable goal.

 

So, it seems silly to me to build a new stadium that does not contemplate the possibility of going Division I-A in the future! Why completely quell an option that may materialize for us in the near future (i.e., next 10-15 years or sooner!)? I had no idea that we were averaging 4,000 per football game! That actually encourages me because I don't even know where the football field is on campus (scary, given the fact that I am a season ticket holder for hoops games and went to graduate school at UAlbany; can you believe it?). With a brand new, and visible, stadium, I have no doubt that many more thousands will attend games (including myself starting in the fall).

 

Buffalo did it; so can we. I am also an alum. of Buffalo, and I just traveled out to Wisconsin to see them play the Badgers this season, and I truly hope that our football future mirrors Buffalo's path. Although Buffalo didn't win that game that I saw in Wisconsin, they are playing better and scheduling top-notch opponents, thereby raising their national profile. This year, Buffalo played Auburn (it was 10-0 going well into the late 3d quarter), Boston College, and Wisconsin (we had a chance to take the lead late in the second quarter on Wisconsin and had the ball first and goal, until we started to go backwards and then missed a field goal ... ugh).

Of note, Buffalo's stadium seats about 39,000. They had to expand and build seating in each end zone a few years ago so that they could go Division I-A.

 

Again, if Buffalo can go Division I-A, why can't we? I know that Buffalo has a larger population at both the school and city, but if anyone has been to Buffalo lately (and don't get me wrong, I love Buffalo), let me just say that I'll take Albany over Buffalo as a place to live, work, and play in a heartbeat! But, back to football, we have to have a stadium that seats 15,000+ (at least) to go Division I-A --- period.

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For those who are interested, here is the quote from the NCAA Division I Manual: BYLAWS. Specifically, this provision comes from Article 20, which is entitled Division I Membership. Here is the quote:

 

"20.9.7.3 Football-Attendance Requirements. [i-A] Once every two years on a rolling basis, the

institution shall average at least 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home football games.

(Revised: 4/25/02 effective 8/1/04, 4/28/05 effective 8/1/05)."

 

From: http://www.ncaa.org/library/membership/div...7_d1_manual.pdf

 

Again, why build a stadium with only 12,000-15,000 seats, thereby conceding that we will never go Division I-A for the next generation (or until more seats are built or a SECOND new stadium is built)?

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You'll get a lot of opposition on here from people about going to IA. (Side Note: Its no longer called IA. Our division is not known as IAA anymore either. IA is now known as Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). IAA is now known as Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).)

 

Anyway, I for one would rather win 25 FCS national championships than go to FBS and dwindle in mediocrity like UB does.

But that's just my two cents.

 

I'd rather not comment on the stadium design too much, but whatever is built will probably start at about 12,000 and be expandable to 25,000 or more. They won't build something of this large scale and be forced to completely rebuild in 15 years.

 

Also, they won't build a 25,000 seat stadium right now. We'll look like Siena at the TU, half empty. 10,000 fans in a 12,000 seat stadium looks a hell of a lot better than 10,000 in a 25,000 seat stadium. IMO

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BCS football requires not only attendance, but over 200 scholarships in the entire athletic department. The real problem is what league do we join; if we got invited to the Big East or ACC, fine, but otherwise there would be an enormous amount of travel to teams that aren't significantly better or more interesting than the top of the FCS.

 

If they ever enforced the attendance rule, Buffalo wouldn't be the only team in the MAC in trouble.

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Thanks for the information on the stadium and D1A (or whatever you want to call it). I agree with a lot of posters on this site. We're inpatient to see progress... but it's just going to take time. The reality is we're very small for a flagship state school. 12k undergraduates is probably 1/2 that of other flagship schools. That hurts us for generating revenue or packing the stands. We're a very liberal school. That hurts us because there is a perception that athletics hurts academics, although I can point out UCLA, Cal, Michigan, Virginia, GT, Florida and dozens of other state schools with more stringent academic standards than us (according to Princeton Review, not me). Doesn't matter... closed minds are not easily opened. We're in an area of the country that doesn't support sports. How are the Firebirds, Patroons, River Rates doing these days? We've come a long way in 10 years. I attended a D3 school (Albany State). I feel lucky that we've come this far, this fast. It doesn't mean you stop donating money and hoping for progress... just realize we've got a decade or more to see any real movement. If you can't wait, I suggest adopting a BCS school... I've got mine.

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I agree with a substantial portion of the foregoing responses. Also, thanks for the updated information! I had no idea about the Division I categorization scheme(s).

 

I. On a New Stadium

As far as a new stadium, everything sounds good. I was concerned that we would be building a bowl-shaped structure that would involve a great deal of cost and/or effort to rebuild or expand, but any stadium seating 12,000-15,000 should be easily expanded (adding end-zone seats, for example, like SUNY Buffalo did) if we ever needed to. I'm excited at the thought of a new stadium, but more importantly, excited to follow another UAlbany team this coming Fall! As far as a big stadium half-full versus a smaller stadium close to being sold out, I would opt for the former, but this is just my personal taste and opinion. I usually prefer the bigger-and-better-get-the-infrastructure-built-first approach, but I can concede that the argument that a smaller stadium mostly full is better for the school (at this time) is a very reasonable argument.

 

Having grown up in Ann Arbor a mile from the Big House, I grew to love large venues [i note on the side that many thought Fielding Yost (the one who lead the efforts to build Big House in Ann Arbor and who has an argument for being one of the greatest, statistically, college football coaches of all time) was nuts for leading the charge to build a stadium in 1927 that would seat, at that time, 84,000 fans] but I understand that, of course, UAlbany is no Michigan, though, interestingly, the Albany area is a larger metro area than many other well-known college towns, including towns/cities that host major power conference schools. This Albany versus other cities topic is addressed below.

 

II. On going From FBS to Division I

Where I think I might differ from others is a desire ---though perhaps not in the next ten years --- to go Division I as opposed to FSB. I would rather "dwindle in mediocrity" than win 25 FSB Championships, but that is really just due to my personal preferences and personality, and, of course, the real issue is what is better for the school, and I suspect that staying FSB and drawing more attendance is far better for the school, and I recognize this! I also realize that as I learn more about FSB football generally, I'll gain a better appreciation for it and learn to love it!

 

In hoops for example, I would just rather go 0-10 against Big East schools than 7-5 against non-Big East schools (save UCONN). But again, this is simply personal preference. Whether such an approach would lead to better recruits, be good for the team or school generally, or help promote more attendance are things we could argue about ad nauseum. And, of course, what is best for the school is always the key interest; not my own personal preferences!

 

A. Academics

I absolutely agree with the foregoing remarks about bigtime football programs having quality acadmics with more stringent standards. Cal, Michigan, and Virginia, for example, are, and have been, ranked as the top 3 public universities, respectively, for many years. Also in your top 7 public universities are Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Illinois (one typically finds that the Big Ten and probably the PAC-10 lead the way, save Ohio State (although OSU is still very good)). With a surge in our athletics over the past ten years, I also hope for a continuing surge in our academics. I'm very proud of our graduate schools [i earned my M.A. in criminal justice, and there is no finer program in CJ in the USA than the one at UAlbany; Maryland's recent #1 ranking (putting UAlbany at #2, I believe), in my view, is due to having received a large multi-million dollar ($12 million I believe) grant from the Dep't of Homeland Security and not due to a long-standing supremacy in research and scholarship generally)], and I also hope that our undergraduate school ranking will rise in the coming years. The nexus between academics and athletics is important. A boost in one, in my view, can boost the other. Indeed, I would argue that the relationship between academics and athletics is somewhat symbiotic.

 

B. Closeness in RPI Rankings?

I will note that I read somewhere (perhaps at this website, which is what I suspect) that UAlbany's football team last year was ranked ahead of Buffalo (#139, if I recall) with our RPI #123 ranking. I didn't realize that FSB and Division I programs are ranked in one RPI poll. Makes sense, as I suspect many FSB teams could compete with more than several Division I programs. Perhaps there are some FSB schools (maybe us someday) that could go Division I as far as competition but lack the attendance? I think the previous comment about UB and many other MAC schools (and even schools like Indiana of the Big Ten) would be in trouble if they were audited by the NCAA ... . UAlbany, in ten years for example, could hopefully compete and earn some wins at the Division I level. Thoughts?

 

C. Scholarships

As far as the granting of 200 scholarships for Division I football status (if I perceive the above post correctly), I wouldn't know whether, and to what extent, this would place an increased burden on the University ... . I imagine that there would logically be consequences to an increased scholarship requirement(s).

 

D. On Patience With a Growing Program

The only interesting point that I would add here is my agreement, of course, that patience is essential for those out there who do want to go Division I someday (myself included, and I'm only 30, so I have plenty of years ahead, God willing, to wait), or for those who want to improve at the FSB level. I would only add that we should not underestimate (and no one here has to my knowledge) what 20 years can do. Look at Buffalo 10 years ago. They were FSB when I was a student there, and maybe they got 400 people at the games (I hardly ever went). Now they average 14,500. Not too shabby for 10 years. And we already average 4,000. Where will we be in 10 years with a new stadium? Could we get 12,000-15,000 per game? I bet we could (and will)!

 

Having been born and raised in Michigan (Ann Arbor) right down the street from the Big House, I came to know and love big-time athletics. I understand UAlbany is not what Michigan is. But I also know that there are other programs, such as Wisconsin, that were horrible athletic programs 20 years ago. I have friends and family members in Madison, WI (both former and current students there) who explained to me that they couldn't give football tickets away 20-30 years ago. I also understand, though, that we are not what Wisconsin is.

 

First of all, we don't have the widespread support that a school like Wisconsin had to build on. But we absolutely do have the city and general metropolitan infrastructure generally. Having just been out to Madison on a football day (I attended the Buffalo vs. Wisconsin football game, where 80,000 were in attendance), I can say that I'd take Albany (and Albany nightlife) over Madison and its State Street (and nightlife) anyday! And Saratoga versus Madison? No contest (remember, just my personal opinion). 'Toga (though I love the 2 lakes in Madison). All I mean here is that we have the city, the population, and the infrastructure as compared to many other cities that support Division I programs. What we don't have, yet, is the enrollment numbers and the interest. Those, however, can, and are, being built --- and this is exciting! During one of the home basketball games this year (one of the two that I missed), the current acting President of the University stated that applications to UAlbany were up 35% to 40% in just the past year. This is tremendous!!!

 

So, all I mean to convey in this subsection is that we are growing in applications, enrollment numbers, as a city generally, and as a sports program. I am proud of the City and our school, and I'm excited to see how far we've come in the past 10 years and look forward to where we'll be 10 years from now! Let's continue to donate money, our time, and our attendance and support at sporting events, and we can all hope for the best!

 

E. The Greater Albany Area can Support Bigtime Athletics

As far as anyone in this area who would claim that the Albany area is not a collegtown, I strongly disagree! We always hear about this area being marketed as a hub of state government, but we are also an educated collegetown. I read somewhere last year that we are the 7th most educated city in America (defined by the percentage of the population with post-graduate education). Moreover, the Albany region IS simply a collegetown if you look at the numbers of enrolled students. I bet if we added up all the college students from the schools in this area (is it 11 schools total?) from, e.g., Skidmore, RPI, UAlbany, we, I predict, would quickly surpass many vintage and well-known college towns! I guarantee it! Once I can find a reliable website with enrollment information, I plan on doing a comparison of students enrolled in this capital district as compared to other college towns (if nothing else, just for my own curiosity). If anyone knows of a reliable website with enrollment information for all schools (regardless of athletic division), I would really appreciate the information!

 

One thing that I would concede about Albany and the Northeast generally is that there is no where near the level of support for college sports that there is out in the Midwest (or the South for that matter). Why this is, I can only speculate. I have my own opinions; I'd be curious to think what everyone else's are, but I agree that it would be really difficult (or impossible) to ever develop a big-time football program in upstate New York and New England. My own view is that we just have a lot of other stuff to do besides sports (though I would note that people also seem to love professional sports more in this area of the country than college sports; something that makes us different from other areas of the country; i.e., the Midwest). Most of my friends only follow professional sports --- as someone who was raised in the Midwest, this is a strange concept to me, but then again we had Michigans, Wisconsins, and Ohio States out there ... .

 

Anyways, these are some of my thoughts fostered by this forum, and I greatly appreciate the ability to engage in a spirited discussion of such topics! If I have misrepresented any facts, or gotten anything wrong, simply let me know, and, of course, I'd love to hear everyone else's points of view and where you disagree! :)

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