Across several conferences, there will be a continued push for new or renovated college football facilities in 2017.
Throughout 2016, there were numerous major programs–including Arizona State University, Notre Dame, the University of Oklahoma, and others–who either completed or took steps toward undertaking major stadium renovations. The trend of renovations, which was covered in detail during our Best of 2016 countdown, is something that is going to carry over into this year.
While the major conferences will get significant attention, there are developments among the Group of Five schools–which include programs in the AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt. Last summer, some programs were planning facility upgrades with an eye toward the Big 12, which announced it was considering expansion, only to eventually decide to hold off on adding more programs.
However, the Big 12’s decision to not expand does change much when it comes to the push for new facilities. Colorado State is moving forward in the development of its new stadium, which opens this fall, and it is one of several Group of Five programs that is looking to position itself for the future. More from The AP (Via The Courier):
Last year, the Big 12 spoke with 11 Group of Five schools, including Colorado State and Tulane — which recently opened its own on-campus stadium — about a possible expansion. In the end, the conference took none of the candidates , and stuck with 10 teams. But the continuing bursts of realignment that have reshaped college sports over the past two decades suggest that the status-quo won’t last forever.
“I think it was a healthy exercise,” [Colorado State athletic director Joe] Parker said. “It was one that helped us understand who we are at this moment in time. For us, we want to continue to be well-positioned for any future conversations that take place with the Big 12 or anyone who wants to visit about what the future … should look like.”
Put more bluntly: “The whole country is going into reactionary mode,” Florida Atlantic athletic director Pat Chun told the Palm Beach Post this summer.
Anticipating the reaction, FAU recently hired Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin to coach its growing program in the Group of Five’s Conference USA. FAU also opened a new stadium in 2011.
If more programs follow the lead of examples such as Colorado State, there will be an increased focus on the Group of Five conferences and their pursuits of new facilities.
Rendering courtesy Colorado State University.