Groundbreaking for Phase One of the Reser Stadium Expansion Saturday

April 29, 2004

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University Director of Athletics Bob De Carolis announced Thursday that groundbreaking for the first phase of the $80 million 'Raising Reser - Expanding Beaver Nation' project is scheduled for Sat., May 1 at Reser Stadium. The groundbreaking will be a part of a busy schedule of events centered on the annual spring football game, which signifies the end of spring practice.

'Our department saying, `it's a great day to be a Beaver,' is never more evident and true than today,' said De Carolis, who unveiled the fundraising campaign in November of 2002. 'To be successful in a project of this magnitude requires a tremendous amount of teamwork, and there are many people to thank, but in particular we want to thank the thousands in Beaver Nation who through their overwhelming generosity made this historic endeavor possible. It is your incredible support and love of this university that has made this project feasible and we are now about to realize what was once a dream.'

The first phase, which will expand the 50-year-old stadium from 35,362 to approximately 43,000, will be completed prior to the start of the 2005 season. This initial phase of construction will cost approximately $80 million. With the retirement of accumulated operating debt and the first two years debt service on the project the entire cost is $93 million. To date, the athletic department has secured $33 million in cash and pledges to this project, all of which is privately raised money. This fundraising capital campaign is the largest in the university's history.

'I've seen how successful athletic programs can benefit a university in many ways, including providing a positive experience for student-athletes and building a sense of community on-campus and off-campus with alumni and friends,' said OSU President Ed Ray. 'The expansion of Reser Stadium confirms the important message that Oregon State University intends to compete with the best programs in everything we do.'

Construction will be centered on the east side of the stadium. Seating for the 2004 season is still being discussed at this time, but one plan has rows 19 through 41 being demolished immediately and replaced with a grandstand similar to the south endzone. Immediately after the conclusion of the regular season finale Nov. 20, crews will dismantle the remaining grandstand.

'Fans will see ongoing construction throughout the next 16 to 18 months,' De Carolis said. 'There may be some adjustments to how fans access that side of the stadium, but it will be a temporary inconvenience at most.'

The new section will feature a double-decked grandstand featuring chair-backed seats. The new side also will include 22 luxury suites, a club area that represents what has been dubbed the 'ultimate tailgate', and a unique loge area that will include a game-day restaurant. The east side also will feature OSU student seating that stretches from end zone to end zone, another unique feature to the structure.

Stadium expansion has been necessitated by a variety of factors, but primarily 23 consecutive home game sellouts dating back to Sept., 30, 2000. The school has been forced to cap season ticket sales in recent seasons and thus has experienced unrealized revenue potential.

'Not only are we raising the capacity, but also our fans' experience when they arrive on campus,' De Carolis added. 'We have raised our expectations for this department across the board; an expanded stadium will contribute to the health of all our intercollegiate programs in many ways.'

The architecture firm HNTB of Los Angeles has designed a complete model for what the entire project encompasses. Phases two and three will be scheduled at a later date.

'We have an ambitious plan for this stadium,' De Carolis said. 'We will schedule the next two phases once we have determined the success of phase one and the demand of Beaver Nation.'

In addition, De Carolis also announced that a portion of the $33 million will go to retire the athletic department's debt. De Carolis and previous athletic director Mitch Barnhart inherited a $12.5 million shortfall that had accumulated over 10 years through 1998. De Carolis and his staff have reduced the debt to $5.7 million.

'We made guarantees to many campus and statewide entities that we would pay off the debt; I'm proud to announce that as of July 1 the remaining $5.7 million will be eliminated and the OSU Athletic Department will be debt-free,' said De Carolis.

'The expansion of Reser Stadium is truly a significant milestone for the university,' Ray added. 'The successful funding of this project will allow us to increase our revenue stream for the athletic department, lessen the reliance on the university to provide funding support for our athletic programs, and eliminate the debt that remains in the program.

At its current capacity, Reser Stadium is the third-smallest stadium of the current Bowl Championship Series conferences. Wake Forest University and Duke University are the only schools with smaller capacity venues. The BCS currently includes 63 programs within the Pacific-10, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, Southeastern, Big East and Big 12 Conferences, plus independent Notre Dame.

'The expanded stadium will give us an opportunity to upgrade our non-conference home schedule,' De Carolis stated. 'The new structure will also enable us to compete in various arenas with our counterparts in the Pac-10 as well as in the nation.'

Fans are encouraged to be a part of the history by joining the Beaver Nation on Saturdays in Corvallis. Several ticket plans remain available for the 2005 season (a few selected seats remain for '04). For more information please contact the BASF at 541-737-2370.

ADVISORY: The official groundbreaking will occur Saturday between 1:45-2:15 p.m. A significant fireworks display, including some loud explosions, will be included in the groundbreaking ceremony.

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