Anticipating Big Ten crowds accustomed to massive stadiums at Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan, University of Nebraska officials have unveiled a $56 million renovation plan for 87-year-old Memorial Stadium. The expansion would boost capacity from 81,067 to about 90,000; stadiums at three other Big Ten schools each seat more than 100,000. "You don't have to keep up with the Joneses all the time, but you at least have to be in the league," Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne told the Associated Press. "It doesn't make sense if we have 110,000 seats if 20,000 are empty."
The proposed expansion, which will go before the university's board of regents on Friday, will add seats to the east end of the facility - including more than 30 luxury boxes with indoor and outdoor seating - while additional seats also will be part of a new covered and heated section. The project, slated for completion prior to the 2013 football season, includes a three-story lobby on the east side of the stadium, a new ticket office, meeting spaces, safety upgrades and other amenities. The costs are expected to be covered through a combination of funds from the university's athletic reserves, revenue bonds, advance sales from luxury boxes and club seats, and naming rights to a 40,000-square-foot research facility that would be part of the expansion.
Additionally, Nebraska hopes to spend $4.75 million on an indoor practice facility for the Cornhusker baseball and softball teams. If the regents approve, the 22,000-square-foot facility will be built near Nebraska's Haymarket Park field. University officials told the AP that the upgrade should improve Nebraska's odds of hosting regional competition in the NCAA baseball and softball tournaments.