Additional renovations could be on the way to Spartan Stadium, and Michigan State officials appear poised to prioritize fan amenities over more seats.
Over the last several years, Spartan Stadium has received numerous upgrades, and more changes are in store for 2017. A permanent lighting system is being installed, while a $13 million addition to the south end will bring bring new concessions and restrooms to the facility.
Beyond this round of upgrades, Michigan State wants to pursue additional changes, with one area of focus being the east side of the stadium. While there are still aspects of proposed future upgrades that need to be resolved, projects are unlikely to be aimed at increasing the stadium’s seating capacity, but would instead focus on improving egress and introducing a new mix of fan amenities.
Citing ticket demand levels and ongoing trends with college football stadium overhauls, Michigan State is not prioritizing expansion at this point, according to school officials, including athletic director Mark Hollis. More from MLive.com:
The Spartan Stadium master plan, Hollis said, has the potential to increase stadium seating from its current level of 75,000 to more than 100,000. But projects that would increase capacity would only be undertaken if the demand for that capacity existed, and as of right now it doesn’t.
College football attendance nationwide has declined for six straight years, according to NCAA data. Michigan State averaged 74,667 fans per home game in 2016, only a slight increase from the previous year.
Spartans deputy athletic director Greg Ianni has said that adding a second seating deck above the south end zone is a part of the building’s master plan. But the current attendance climate makes it unlikely that phase would be undertaken anytime soon.
“I don’t think that’s where college football seating is going to be going, so I think it’ll be stopped before it gets to those phases,” Hollis said.
There has been a trend among college football renovations–in both those that have either been completed, or at least received considerable discussion–of prioritizing amenities and fan comfort over increased seating. Down the road, Michigan State may look to follow this pattern with Spartan Stadium upgrades, particularly if the current demand levels stay consistent.
Image courtesy Michigan State University.
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