Football Magazine

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The 81,067-seat Elephant in the Room

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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  • By Brian Towle

During the latest episode of the Official Husker Locker podcast, the topic of replacing Memorial Stadium in the future was broached. This was brought up with the thought that due to time and increasing cost of upkeep the stadium, it’ll eventually have to be replaced. Before people get too red in the face and start spewing four letter adjectives, let’s take a look at the facts:
Memorial Stadium is almost 90 years old, there’s not much that can realistically be done to the stadium after finishing the current expansion aside from potential work on the south side. Finally, in its purest form, the stadium is a structure like any other. Not to mention one that gets scorched by 100-degree summers and frozen by zero-degree winters.
The more Erin Sorensen spoke about the feelings of the fan base during the podcast, the more the panel agreed that there would essentially be rioting in the streets and it would be justified to an extent. The bottom line is the cheaper cost of how an effective plan can be carried out.
The East stadium project will cost the University $63.5 million dollars alone. Tack on the new Hendricks training center, refitting the Devaney Center for volleyball and the new Haymarket Park indoor facility and the bill easily tops $100 million. This doesn’t include the new arena with which the City of Lincoln has graciously helped foot the bill for.
Yes, there are bonds and donations that will help cover expenses, but the has to be paid in full. More often than not, money isn’t always available to simply pour into the university’s coffers at any time. The cost of building a new stadium weighed against the price tag of renovating an entire structure has to be evaluated.
The Devaney Center is a perfect example. The facility is now almost 35 years old. In 2000, there was an extensive renovation that helped bring the arena into the 21st century. Unfortunately, 10 years later both basketball programs have outgrown that addition and will be in the new Haymarket Arena in two years.
At the end of the day, people have to ask if that money was well spent. Granted, the renovation for volleyball will not have to be as thorough as it could be, but it still begs the question of if these monies are being spent effectively.
More than likely, the topic of Memorial Stadium’s future is one that we will not have to worry about it in our lifetimes. Nebraska’s hallowed cathedral has stood the test of time, avoided tornadoes and even went through some severe blizzards. For now, we can enjoy fall and winter Saturdays at 625 Stadium Drive for a good while longer.

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