Question and Answer with Director of Athletics Bob De Carolis
Oct. 3, 2002
To help fans of the OSU football program, alumni, students, staff and faculty better understand the need for expanding Reser Stadium and the fundraising effort that will make the project a reality, OSU Athletic Director Bob De Carolis sat down recently with OSUBEAVERS.COM for a question and answer session. What follows is the text of that conversation and insights into one of the most ambitious building projects in the university's history - 'Raising Reser: Expanding Beaver Nation.'
Q. Why is it necessary to expand Reser Stadium?
A. At just over 35,000 seats, Reser Stadium is the smallest football venue in the Pac-10 Conference. Because we are sold out every game, it's necessary to expand seating in Reser Stadium to increase revenues. It's important to understand that it's not just about football. The revenues that we generate from football help fund all of our sports. This expansion is about being competitive in the Pac-10, period.
Q. You are expanding Reser Stadium to 43,000 seats. If football is your largest revenue producer, why not increase the expansion?
A. We feel we can be successful with this fundraising project. We need to raise $28 million in up-front, private dollars to be able to leverage an additional $60 million in state bonds to make this project a reality. We are going to collect contributions through June, 2004. If you think about it, we basically have 18 months to raise $28 million. This is a big test for our program. That said, I believe we'll be successful and the new east grandstand will be built prior to kickoff for the 2005 season. We have two additional phases that will eventually bring the capacity of Reser Stadium to 55,000, but we need to prove to everyone that we can raise the money for the first phase of the project and consistently sell out 43,000 seats before we move forward.
Q. With other stadiums in the Pac-10 reaching 75,000 or more in capacity, isn't OSU still going to be behind other programs?
A. This project isn't about being the biggest - it's about being the best. The raising of Reser Stadium is not only about the necessity for raising its capacity, but raising the quality of the experience in the stadium. We want fans leaving Reser Stadium thinking it was the best college sports experience they've had - bar none. That means providing upscale amenities, including food, beverages, restrooms, souvenir stands, accessibility etc. Our fans will be as proud of our stadium as they are of our football team when this project is finished.
Q. What are the details of the first phase of the expansion?
A. The first phase will include 4,000 bleacher seats stretching from goal line to goal line on the east side reserved for our students. We'll also provide an additional 2,000 bleacher seats in the south endzone for our students. It's a priority for Coach Dennis Erickson to have our students behind the team to enhance the home field advantage. There will be 3,600 club seats located on a covered second deck. These will be stadium-style seats, each having a back and more room than the traditional bench seats at Reser Stadium. The views from these seats will be awesome. The upper bowl will be significantly closer to the action than seats in the current west grandstand. An additional 200 high-end amenity seats will be located in the 'Founders Loge' area and we'll also provide 20 brand new luxury boxes. There will be elevators and escalators covered by a canopy system to help people reach the upper bowl and 30,000-square-feet of reception space under the club seats with food, adult beverages, and modern restrooms. The east grandstand has been designed for comfort but it's also been designed to enhance the noise created by the fans. The cover will amplify the noise, creating what we believe will be one of the most feared home field advantages in the Pac-10 Conference, possibly the nation.
Q. How do you propose raising the money for this project? You've hinted that it's a fairly ambitious plan.
A. Yes, it is an ambitious plan. This is about more than expanding Reser Stadium - it's about expanding Beaver Nation. We're adding 8,000 new seats which means we have room for 8,000 more members of Beaver Nation. I think the project name says it all - 'Raising Reser: Expanding Beaver Nation.' The fundraising plan is divided into three components. First, there is a targeted fundraising effort that will include naming opportunities throughout the stadium. That includes hospitality rooms, levels, and plazas. Second, with 8,000 new tickets, a BASF ticket campaign will sell the new seats. We will ask donors to provide their 2005 donations up-front, over the January, 2003 through June, 2004 timeframe. We will even set up a payment plan through the OSU Foundation so that ticket holders don't have to write the full amount of the check up-front. That will make it more convenient. Finally, we'll ask everyone for a Stadium Investment Fee - a one-time contribution on all seats. Existing season ticket holders will be asked to pay an average of $100 per seat, again, spread out over 18 months if necessary and the new seats will go for an average of $300 per seat. All individual ticket purchases will require a $5 per ticket charge over the next three seasons. The students will also be asked to pay their share and we'll go through the student fee process to determine what that might be. All of the people who provide a $100 stadium investment fee, along with the students, will receive their name on a wall of honor located somewhere on the Reser Stadium Ground. All people who give $300 will receive a naming plaque on their seat. In the past, only a selected few donors have contributed to large capital projects for athletics. This plan is equitable for all fans.
Q. What is the time frame for this project?
A. We'll roll out the necessary materials and begin seat sales Nov. 2 of this year. We will have a video tape, CD and hard copy promotional material that will detail the scope, cost, seat selections, etc., for this project. We will conduct regional meetings around the state to formally present the project. These will begin in November and likely last into the New Year. There will be customer relations experts on hand to personalize your order and answer any questions and concerns. The stadium design will begin this January and continue through December, 2004. We'll collect contributions from January, 2003 through June, 2004. We expect to start preliminary construction in the summer of 2004 and we'll demolish the east side of the stadium after the 2004 football season. All of the seats and amenities will be in place for the state of the 2005 season.
Q. If I'm a not currently a season ticket holder, what should I do to let folks know I want to join Beaver Nation?
A. The best way to let us know you are interested in a seat in the new stadium is to provide a $100 non-refundable deposit at one of the remaining home or away football games this season. Starting with Saturday's UCLA game and continuing throughout the season on game day Saturdays, fans will be able to sign up at any one of three locations around the stadium or you can call 1-800-GOBEAVS starting two hours before the game and continuing through the game and one hour after the game. Representatives at both the stadium and phone locations will be taking customer names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail information. Upon giving the information and credit card information, you will be given your priority number on the spot. In November, you will be sent the same information that all season ticket holders will receive and you will be contacted in priority order by an OSU sales rep to personalize your order for the project. This is a great way for fans to join Beaver Nation and get on board before the new east deck is built.
Q. There has been a lot of talk about tight budgets for higher education in Oregon lately. Will this project help us eliminate the current debt in the athletic department and reduce the reliance of the athletic department on the university's general fund?
A. It certainly will. We will take the money we raise up-front to eliminate the debt in order to bond the project. This project puts us in a position to increase our revenue stream so that we can remain competitive in the conference and - more importantly - start to mitigate the athletic department's reliance on university funding.
Q. How does the Reser gift fit into this project?
A. Part of the Reser gift is committed to current and future elimination of the debt, partial funding of the Truax Center, and ongoing operational support. The gift works together with this fundraising project to make our athletic department stronger financially, and for that we are very thankful to the Reser family.