Despite some concerns within South Carolina’s hierarchy, funding has been approved for renovations to Coastal Carolina University‘s stadium.
Coastal Carolina is attempting to bump up from the Big South Conference to the Sun Belt Conference. In a lot of cases, a move of that type will require a capacity expansion, which is the case with Coastal Carolina. To meet requirements, the university is seeking to expand Brooks Stadium to 20,700 seats. That project will cost $32 million, and the university needed approval from the Commission on Higher Education (CHE).
It previously appeared that the Coastal Carolina’s effort would be halted, as the CHE deemed it too expensive. However, the state’s Fiscal Accountability Authority approved initiative by a 3-2 margin. Now, the state will not be on the hook for the entire cost, but Coastal Carolina still needed permission to receive bond money.
The CHE’s stance was backed by several key players in South Carolina, including governor Nikki Haley. She was none too pleased with this recent move. More from Myrtle Beach Online:
“How will you ever be able to say that you’re conservative, accountable in any way setting standards for higher education?”
Earlier this year, state lawmakers approved Coastal’s stadium project in the state budget and also exempted the Conway university from getting required approval from the S.C. Commission on Higher Education.
Haley vetoed the bill, but lawmakers overrode it.
“From the beginning we’ve been confident in our plan and the track record of this university,” CCU athletic director Matt Hogue said. “Did we have to maybe change our game plan? Sure. But we were confident in our plan all along and we’re pleased we were able to get to the finish line.”
Approval of the $32 million plan doesn’t grant the university state funding, but as a public university it must receive state consent. The project will be funded largely with bonds. Hogue said the bond amount will be nearly $23 million and will be paid back by the university over 25 years. The total financing plan takes into account other sources including Chanticleer Athletic Foundation contributions, athletic department revenue and donations.
Coastal Carolina is expected to be an FBS-eligible member of the Sun Belt Conference by 2018. The expansion is not expected to complete until after the 2017 season.
Image courtesy of Coastal Carolina University.