LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees gave final approval Thursday to a $160 million project to expand and upgrade the Razorbacks’ football stadium.
The plan, approved by an 8-2 vote, includes $120 million in bonds and the university hopes to raise another $40 million, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/2ccqgBK ).
The university will not know exactly how much annual debt payments are until the bonds are sold.
Trustee David Pryor, a former U.S. senator and governor, opposed the plan, which includes adding premium seating, enclosing the north end zone and increasing seating capacity from 72.000 to nearly 77,000.
During a committee meeting Wednesday in which the project was discussed, Pryor questioned how the bonds would be paid if the football team should “lose three or four games” and fans stop attending. He said he’s concerned fans may be tempted to stay at home to watch games on the SEC Network during bad seasons.
“I truly think that we’re looking at sort of maxing out on a credit card here,” he said. “I don’t know what other revenues we could pledge if we’re pledging all of these revenues, $120 million worth of revenues.”
Athletic director Jeff Long said fans have shown strong support even during less than successful seasons.
“We’ve had years when we were not successful, and we’re selling these suites at this time coming off a series of years that were not really successful,” Long said.
Arkansas is 1-0 on the young season, and went 8-5 last season, including beating Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl.
The project, which is expected to be finished in time for the 2018 football season, is the first expansion since Razorback Stadium’s capacity was raised from 51,000 to 72,000 before the 2001 football season. That expansion added an upper deck to the east side, as well as club seating and suites to the south end.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com