News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Monday, June 3, 2002
by Will Stewart,

Tech May Expand Lane Stadium to 70,000 Seats

Monday, Tech athletic director Jim Weaver proposed a modified design for the West side expansion of Lane Stadium that would add 5,000 additional seats and bring Lane Stadium's total capacity to 70,000 upon completion.

Weaver was speaking to a joint meeting of Virginia Tech's Finance and Audit Committee/Buildings and Grounds Committee. A source attended the meeting, which was open to the public, and provided a full report to TSL.

The original West side expansion proposal (see TSL's Lane Stadium Expansion Page for details) would have topped out seating at somewhere around 65,000. The updated West side expansion design that Weaver proposed would remove the existing press box and add another 18 rows of seats to the top of the West side, as well as filling in seats where the old press box currently infringes upon the bowl shape of the stadium.

The new West side concept also makes Lane Stadium look much more symmetrical. The expanded West side would be the same height as the East side, and the additional seats and consistent look across the stadium for the press/luxury boxes would make the two sides look like they were part of one original design. The outside of the new West side concept is unchanged from the design currently being publicized.

Weaver believes that Tech may have underestimated the demand for seats, as there are only about another 1,000 season tickets available for the 2002 season, when Lane Stadium will have a capacity of approximately 65,000. All but 89 club seats in the expanded South end zone are sold, and 10 of 15 luxury boxes are sold, with three more strong prospects.

More available seats would reduce the fundraising demands for the project and allow VT to finance more of the expansion cost through debt. Still, beginning in July 2003, Tech will need to raise approximately $15 million for West side expansion. There is $3 million left to be raised for the South end zone expansion (of the $15 million total).

Weaver did not ask the committees to approve the new plan; he asked for another 2+ months to study the financial and physical parameters of the new proposal. Weaver will come back to the committees at an August meeting with a final West side expansion recommendation in hand, and barring unforeseen problems, it is anticipated that he will recommend the new design, taking Lane Stadium to 70,000 seats.

Planning and bid selection would then last 10 months, with fundraising starting in July 2003, construction starting in December 2003, and lasting until summer 2005.

Much more study is needed to determine if the existing press box can be retained through the 2004 season, halfway through construction, before being razed.

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