Wednesday, April 25, 2007
University of Maryland athletic officials yesterday unveiled details of a plan to add 64 luxury suites to Byrd Stadium, the first and most critical part of a proposed pay-as-you-go expansion project that would add new amenities and eventually raise the building's capacity to nearly 60,000.
The first phase of the project, which will cost the athletic department $50.8 million, will triple the size of the Tyser Tower complex on the stadium's south side and will include the new luxury suites, a larger press box, a new team store and more than 500 new mezzanine-level seats.
Construction is expected to start after the Terrapins play their final home game this season and last until just before the start of the 2010 season. A new LED video board, which is also part of the first phase of expansion, will be installed in the west end of the stadium before the start of this season.
"It is a truly exciting plan for us at Maryland," Athletic Director Debbie Yow said. "There will be something for everyone in the overall expansion, in the vision for what Byrd Stadium could be."
Revenue from a $20 million naming rights deal with Chevy Chase Bank signed last August will cover part of the cost of the Tyser Tower expansion. The remainder will be funded through a $35 million loan to the athletic department by the University System of Maryland and through private donations.
Officials plan to use the revenue from the sale of the luxury suites, which start at $40,000 apiece, to repay the loan and help fund the completion of the remaining phases of the proposed larger expansion and renovation project.
"These phases will only be initiated, and we will only seek approval for this campus, once we identify the funding sources for them," Yow said.
Those plans call for the addition of safety railings in the stadium's existing lower bowl, lowering the playing field to improve the sight lines of the first 10 rows, the addition of restrooms and concessions on the stadium's south side and chair-back seating on the second tier of seats on the north side.
The final phase of expansion calls for the construction of a two-tiered seating structure that would wrap around the stadium's west end, similar to the one that stands on the north end. Plans also include an expansion to the Gossett Football Team House and the installation of synthetic turf to replace the natural grass playing field.
Yow said the school has received 10 commitments for the luxury suites.
Terrapins Note: Cornerback Richard Taylor may be sidelined for the season, pending an examination of his injured left knee. Coach Ralph Friedgen said Taylor will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery to determine whether the anterior cruciate ligament is sprained or torn.
-- Marc Carig