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UNCC Football Costs `Sobering'
Chancellor lays out numbers, but makes no recommendation. Worthy of note is the fact that if they stay at the FCS level and have a 12,000 seat stadium (rather than chase the BCS with no conference affiliation), they could save lots of money.
The financial reality of starting a football program at UNC Charlotte grew more expensive Thursday than estimated in an exploratory committee’s report in February.
During a presentation to the school’s Board of Trustees that lasted more than an hour, Chancellor Philip Dubois said representatives of HOK, a stadium construction company in Kansas City, told him the cost for refitting the Belk track and field complex for football would be significantly higher than estimated.
It would cost approximately $40 million to refit the complex to seat 12,000 fans for football. The price tag would rise to $52 million for a 20,000-seat stadium.
That does not include the cost of support facilities including locker rooms, weight rooms and coaches offices, which would add between $19 million and $32 million to the tab. The price increase, well above what Dubois expected to hear, could drive the price of refitting the facility to more than $80 million.
“At that point, you start to ask, do you just build a new facility?” Dubois told the trustees.
No decision was reached about the football question, but none was expected. Dubois said he expects to make a recommendation to the board in September, when he makes a more detailed cost analysis.
During the presentation, which offered detailed analysis of expected revenues and expenses based on Dubois’ personal evaluation, trustees often asked questions, but voiced no opinions.
“They are very sobering numbers,” trustee Jim Babb said after the meeting. We have a lot of thinking to do.”
Under the model proposed by a committee in February, Charlotte would begin playing football in 2012 on the Division I-AA level. In 2016, it would move to Division I-A, where expenses and revenues would increase.
Additionally, three new women’s sports – field hockey, lacrosse and swimming – would be added to accommodate Title IX requirements.
The facilities issue is at the heart of the football issue. The committee estimated a new on-campus stadium would cost between $60 million and $75 million, with auxiliary facilities bringing the total to the $100 million range.
Dubois indicated the option of playing at least one year in Memorial Stadium near uptown was not under serious consideration.
“It was old when I played there years ago,” Babb said. “I’m glad that option is apparently dead.”
The chancellor said there is broad agreement that if Charlotte adds a football program, it should play on campus.
Dubois’ presentation touched on a variety of questions raised during the process. He pointed out that 80 percent of colleges with enrollments between 25,000 and 35,000 – where Charlotte would be when a program started – have football programs. Approximately 65 percent of those are Division I-A programs.
Student fees and private donations would finance a football program because state law prohibits the use of public money for building athletic facilities.
Dubois’ presentation offered a glimpse into private donations received by the school.
“People think that when you start a football program, the money comes rolling in,” he said. “But there are only about 20 programs in the country that make real money with football. Everybody subsidizes it.
“My analysis here today shows we’d be subsidizing it very heavily and the students would be paying that bill.”
Dubois, who said he has not made up his mind about what he will recommend, showed the board a chart indicating 67 donors have given in excess of $500,000 to the school through its existence. Of those, 35 have never given any money to the athletic department.
He said the school would require substantial corporate support to have a football program. To that end, Dubois said he has written 15 prominent business leaders in the city to talk with them about their potential interest in supporting the program.
“If we’re going to have a capital campaign, it’s not going to make it on $100 donors or on $1,000 donors,” Dubois said. “You need multi-million dollar donors. I don’t expect it to come from the alumni.”
After Dubois makes his recommendation in September, the board will have several options. It can accept a recommendation to add football; accept it but change the time frame; modify the plan; accept starting in Division I-AA with no commitment to pursuing I-A; or reject the proposal.
Charlotte Football Numbers
Estimated costs for refitting the Belk track and field facility for football:
12,000-SEAT STADIUM: $40 million
20,000-SEAT STADIUM: $52 million
Estimated cost for building a new football stadium on campus:
30,000 SEATS: Between $60 million and $75 million.
Estimated costs for auxiliary facilities (locker rooms, weight rooms, offices, etc.):
PURCHASED TRAILERS: $20 million
PRE-ENGINEERED BUILDING: $25 million
CONVENTIONAL BUILDING: $32 million
UNCC football costs `sobering’
By Ron Green Jr., The Charlotte Observer