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University of Arkansas Nearing Stadium Vote


Razorback Stadium expansion

Having cleared one hurdle, a proposed expansion of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium is ready for its final vote. 

A key vote for the $160 million proposal came on Wednesday, when a group of University of Arkansas system trustees approved bonds for the project by a 5-1 margin. What the committee approved was up to $120 million in bonds to complete the project which expand Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Given the hyper-competitive nature of the SEC, Arkansas is pitching the project as a must to keep the program viable. The tasks this renovation would cover are frequent additions to college facilities these days, as Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium would be equipped with new premium seating options, including new loge boxes. The north end would also be enclosed, accounting for the part of upgrade’s capacity expansion by 4,000 seats to 76,000. Among the other work on the table is a new videoboard for the stadium’s south end, and an expansion of the Broyles Athletic Center.

In order to reach final approval, the project must receive the blessing of the 10-member board of trustees. The trustees are set to consider the proposal today, and one of the group’s most prominent voters is already expressing skepticism. Former U.S. Senator David Pryor attended Wednesday’s vote, and questioned the cost of the project and the university’s ability to cover the bond. More from the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

“I truly think that we’re looking at sort of maxing out on a credit card here,” he said. “I don’t know what other revenues we could pledge if we’re pledging all of these revenues, $120 million worth of revenues.”

UA had an announced attendance of 421,688 for the six home games last year, making for an average attendance of about 70,281 per game.

Clayton Hamilton, the senior associate athletics director and chief financial officer at UA, said the athletics department’s current debt service for this fiscal year is just shy of $10 million.

The department is looking to take on the additional debt over 20 years and plans to retire its current debt during that period, he said.

“Paying off some of the current debt is going to free up additional revenues, if needed, to apply to paying off the debt that’s being taken out for this project,” he said.

For one three-year period, the department will have a maximum debt service of $14.5 million, but that will decrease to $9 million over the last nine years of the bond issue, he said.

The university will not know exactly how much annual debt payments are until the bonds are sold.

Pryor also expressed concerns over whether attendance would drop if the Razorbacks struggle on the field. Indications are that he will vote against the project.

Image courtesy of the University of Arkansas

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