Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU Stadium Still Planned for 2010

There are no shovels in the ground and no cranes in place at the site of the new FAU Stadium. But the facility is still set to open for the start of the 2010 football season.

Groundbreaking by June 1, 2009, will leave just enough time for the stadium to host its first game as scheduled.
“We’re still on that train track moving forward,” says FAU’s associate athletic director for development, Terry Mohajir. Despite a lack of funding for the project, the stadium is “on track for a 2010 opening.”

The FAU Board of Trustees (BOT) — a 13-member board that governs the university — approved the idea of a stadium as part of a larger “Innovation Village” in 2006. At that time, the preferred concept was a domed stadium similar to the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University. It would have been a facility that could house football as well as basketball, volleyball and other events like concerts and graduations.

However, with statewide budget cuts and then the national economic recession, plans have been scaled back. Innovation Village was not totally scuttled and has already begun to spring up at the north end of the Breezeway on the Boca campus. A fitness center and alumni center are already open.

In October 2007, the BOT unanimously voted to allow the university to seek funds to build a $62 million, steel-structure stadium. It will take another vote to approve construction once enough money is raised.

The downturn in the national economy has had an effect on fundraising for the stadium, but plans have not been derailed. Because of the credit crisis, fundraisers don’t know exactly how much money they need to secure loans.
“I’m very optimistic that it will come about at the time we’re talking,” says FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos. “It’s just unparalleled [economic] times, so … it’s a Herculean effort [to get a project like this going].”

FAU is trying to sell naming rights to the stadium itself, and the names of everything from the press box to the locker-rooms are for sale.
“Financial institutions and banks are who we’re looking at,” says Mohajir about possible buyers of the naming rights to the new stadium. “Some people are very interested.”
Other fundraising options include philanthropic gifts and the possible sale of building new dorms as part of Innovation Village to a private developer.
“We need the philanthropy piece. We need the development outsource piece [the dorms project], and it would be great if we could get naming rights. Those would be the three things we would like to happen,” says Angelos. “We hope we could make it with just two of the three, but that remains to be seen.”

There were reports in mid-2008 that Royal Bank of Canada was interested in purchasing naming rights to the new FAU stadium. With several South Florida branches, including one on FAU Boulevard, a partnership with RBC seemed like a perfect match.

However, when the economic crisis took hold this past summer, banks became wary of how the public would perceive the purchase of multimillion dollar naming rights to sports stadiums.

Even though there hasn’t been a groundbreaking yet, preconstruction work is still in progress.
“They’re testing the soil. We’re paying the architects,” Mohajir says. “We have cost
estimates. We have revisions to make.”

Success on the field has not translated into the kind of massive donations FAU Athletics had hoped for. Back-to-back postseason bowl wins were an enormous achievement for the eight-year old Owls, but the donor base is still growing.

The Owls have lived a vagabond existence since they played their first game in the fall of 2001. The original home for the team was Dolphin Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. But that venue proved to be too large and too expensive for the fledgling program, and they moved most home games to Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium
in 2003.

Building stadiums in South Florida is never easy. The NBA’s Miami Heat and the NHL’s
Florida Panthers both fought to get new arenas built in the last 15 years. The Florida Marlins of Major League Baseball have been in a decadelong battle for a new home that that will be paid for with public money and private funds. FAU is attempting to build its stadium entirely by fundraising.

Florida International University moved its football team into a new on-campus stadium
for the 2008 football season. FIU is building its stadium in stages: They played this season with three quarters of the stadium built. FIU and the University of Central Florida in Orlando are the only Football Bowl Subdivision teams south of Gainesville with on-campus football stadiums.


FAU Football and Stadium Timeline:

1998: FAU and former FAU President Anthony Cantonese charter the football program with the intention of playing the first game in 2001. Former University of Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger is hired to lead the program. Upon hiring, he begins his public campaign for an on-campus stadium.

2000: The first practice is held in Boca. More than 160 students show up on newly built practice fields next to the Boca Raton Airport.

2001: FAU plays its first game, a 40-7 loss to Slippery Rock University, in front of 25,632 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami-Dade County. In their second game, the Owls beat Bethune- Cookman University 31-28.

2003: The Owls move their home field from Dolphin Stadium to Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. The high school football stadium seats 18,500.

2003: The Owls host Colgate University at Lockhart for the Division I-AA national semifinal game. The Owls lose 36-24.

2004: FAU begins its transition into Division I-A, now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision.

2005: FAU joins the Sun Belt Conference.

2006: The FAU Board of Trustees approves the idea of moving forward with an expandable football stadium, possibly domed, that would be part of a larger “Innovation Village” project.

2007: The FAU Board of Trustees, after analyzing costs, approves fundraising for a $62 million, 30,000-seat steel-structured stadium similar to the one at the University of Central Florida.

2007: The Owls win the Sun Belt championship and go on to defeat Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 26. FAU becomes the youngest team ever to win a bowl game, doing so in their seventh season.

2008: Florida International University opens a 20,000-seat stadium on its University Park campus in Miami.

2008: FAU wins the Motor City Bowl, evening the program’s overall record at 48-48.

2008: FAU launches its Bring it Home campaign, aimed at raising money for stadium construction. Naming rights to the stadium, cornerstones, press box, locker-rooms and other parts of the facility are for sale.

2009: The deadline for construction to begin is June 1. If construction begins later than this date, FAU may not be able to open the stadium on time.

2010: The projected opening of FAU stadium is for the beginning of the 2010 football season. Michigan State is already scheduled for the first game.

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