By Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 16, 2006
The University System of Maryland's Board of Regents will consider a long-discussed Byrd Stadium expansion proposal at its regularly scheduled meeting next Friday, a proposal that could add up to 60 luxury suites and about 500 mezzanine seats to the stadium complex, Athletic Director Debbie Yow said. To accommodate the additions, the five-story Tyser Tower, which houses luxury seats, press facilities and a hospitality suite, would be renovated and expanded in both directions, and its fifth level could be enclosed, Yow said.
If the $50 million project is approved, the school would choose an architect and begin the design process this fall. Construction likely would begin after the 2007 season and be done in phases over more than one offseason, depending on the design plans. Yow said she was "reasonably optimistic that we've answered all the questions satisfactorily" and that "there does not seem to be a compelling reason not to approve it."
To finance the project, the school would borrow up to $35 million from the state. The debt would be serviced through the sale of the stadium's first luxury suites -- which Yow said would raise several million dollars a year -- and the mezzanine seats, which would be covered seats with chair backs and food service. The rest of the project would be funded by selling the naming rights to the playing field for at least $15 million; the stadium's name would not change.
School officials have had preliminary discussions with potential naming rights partners, but Yow said "the pace would quicken" once the project is approved by the Board of Regents. She said the school would like to complete a naming rights deal by next summer.
The expansion project also will include a renovation of the press box, the creation of a presidential suite for entertaining and the addition of handrails and more handicapped seating throughout the stadium.