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Look for plenty of stadium upgrades as College Football Playoffs expand

As the College Football Playoffs expand to 12 teams in 2024, more universities are upgrading stadiums to potentially host in the new round of games. That’s what’s happening at the University of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium.

The College Football Playoffs will include 12 seeded teams beginning in 2024 using a playoff round to begin play. That means the #5 through #8 seeds can host a bonus game to begin the playoffs.

Though the Badgers have faced some rocky recent years on the field, since 2006 the university could have hosted home games five times if the field had been expanded earlier. With the new rounds of games set for Dec. 20-21, 2024 and Dec. 19-20, 2025, the Badgers are taking some preemptive steps to make Camp Randall a more inviting spot for games. It sounds like hosting a game in this first round will not be automatic, as the CFB apparently retains the final call on venues. Northern venues might need to do some planning; the University of Minnesota’s Huntington Bank Stadium already sports a field-warming system;

This all means two offseason upgrades in 2024 to prep for the new games: the installation of a heating system under the synthetic turf and the addition of new videoboard signage throughout the stadium.

Historically, December temps in Madison aren’t cold enough necessarily to warrant a new heating system, but snow levels are always a crapshoot–sometimes there’s a very white Christmas, sometimes the ground is bone dry. The new heating system will make sure the field will be more comfortable for players and able to melt off snow. From the Wisconsin State Journal:

“I think this will make the surface safer because we’re not going to have a frozen field like we had in the past,” he said. “We just think overall it’s going to be a good benefit to the program.”

But it’s a benefit that comes with costs. King estimated a $5.5 million price tag for the installation, which also will replace the FieldTurf surface that was just installed in 2022 as part of the reconstruction of the stadium’s south end zone seating sections.

Preliminary work is scheduled to take place this summer with most of the construction happening after the 2023 football season. The reconfiguration also will eliminate the crown on the field that helps water flow to the sidelines; drainage will be handled under the field, King said.

The 2024 upgrades will also replace existing signage in the stadium, which was installed in 2013. These upgrades were already on the athletic department’s wish list.

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August Publications