Before wrapping up its meeting Friday, the Coastal Carolina University Board of Trustees approved administrators to move forward with the school’s Brooks Stadium expansion project, at a cost not to exceed $38 million.
The university also released several renderings of the planned expansions to the football stadium, with the illustration showing a second-level of seating backing up to S.C. 544 with what looks to be a level of suites in the middle.
The discussion of the project Friday was held during the board’s closed-door executive session and officials were not available for comment afterward. There was no discussion about the stadium during the general session.
The renderings were sent out in a news release after the meeting.
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The university announced last month that it had hired Stubbs Muldrow Herin Architects, out of Mount Pleasant, in partnership with Heery International. At that time, CCU President David DeCenzo told The Sun News he wouldn’t know an exact cost for the project until the firm came back with an estimate that could then be taken to Columbia for further approval.
DeCenzo said then he hoped a proposed design would be available for review by January or at the latest the university’s February board meeting, so it is unclear if that $38 million figure announced Friday is in response to specific estimates from the architects or simply a maximum available budget.
Explaining the process last month, DeCenzo said: “They’ll come back with [the designs]. We’ve asked them to give us everything, but price it so, ‘If we took this away, now what will the costs be?’ So we’ll see where the costs come in. [We] then go back to Columbia for phase two approval. Just picking a number, ‘Let’s say the architects say, ‘OK, this can be done for $20 million.’ We will then go back to Columbia to get approval to spend that amount of money. We will then put it out to bid [for a contractor] and you get your true cost. Someone may say, ‘I can build it for $19 million.’ Somebody else might say, ‘It’s going to cost $24 million.’ But usually the architects are pretty good with current costs.”
The expansion of the football stadium is part of Coastal Carolina’s upcoming move to the Sun Belt Conference and its corresponding move from the NCAA’s second-tiered Football Championship Subdivision to the top-tiered Football Bowl Subdivision.
FBS teams must maintain an average attendance of 15,000, and DeCenzo has said all along the plan is to expand Brooks Stadium from its current 9,214 seats to more than 20,000.
As expected, the renderings released Friday show the corners of the stadium on the Adkins Field House side closed in with seats, and a new plaza and entrance to the stadium on the S.C. 544 side with a tiered ramp to the second level. There was also talk last month about the potential for a boardwalk connecting the other end of the stadium by the scoreboard, and one of the images appears to show such an addition.
The Coastal Carolina football program faces a two-year transition to the FBS in which it won’t be eligible for any postseason play. The Chanticleers will play an FCS schedule next year despite being ineligible for the playoffs, and they will play a Sun Belt Conference schedule in 2017 despite not being eligible for any bowl games until the following year.
DeCenzo had previously said this spring would be the earliest any physical construction could begin.