OMAHA, Neb. — An increased expansion of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium will help satisfy a higher demand for seats and allow for future growth as the school enters the Big Ten conference, athletic department officials said Friday.
A proposal approved by university regents adds 1,000 seats to the expansion first announced in October and will bring the 87-year-old stadium’s capacity to about 91,000 fans, said John Ingram, assistant athletic director for capital planning. The original plan called for the addition of 5,000 seats to the east side of the stadium.
Ingram said the change was settled on during the design phase and provides for an additional floor on the east side that will have five suites and leave room for future development.
“That prepares us for the future and gives us more flexibility for making changes down the road as far as adding seats. It doesn’t limit as much what we can do,” he said.
The change will add about $8 million to the cost of the expansion project, increasing it to $63.5 million.
Athletic director Tom Osborne said in October that a modest expansion would bring the stadium closer in size to its Big Ten counterparts but also preserve Nebraska’s sellout streak, which is the longest in college football and dates to 1962. He was out of the office Friday and unavailable to comment.
Nebraska enters the Big Ten on July 1. The largest stadium in the conference – and in college football – is Michigan Stadium, the venerable Big House, which seats 109,901.
The athletic department said in its proposal that the higher demand for seats as Nebraska switches from the Big 12 to the Big Ten conference necessitated a bigger expansion.
Construction is slated to begin in May. The project would be done before the 2013 football season.
The last stadium expansion was in 2006.
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