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A survey of college Athletic Directors by the Ohio University Center for Sports Administration in Athens, and AECOM, a global leader in sports venue design and construction, reveals new insight into the facility investment plans of NCAA programs across the U.S. Of those participating, nearly all (99 percent) said they plan to invest more than US$500,000 in athletic facilities over the next five years, and half (50 percent) plan to invest at least US$25m in that time.

Athletic Directors who participated in the survey perceive fan amenities to be of increasing importance to the game day experience, while training facilities and locker rooms remain top priorities for attracting recruits, with a growing emphasis on academic spaces.

The survey was administered in November 2015 to 87 NCAA Athletic Directors from 25 Division I conferences. It is a follow-up to a survey conducted in 2014.

Since the first survey, the percentage of Athletic Directors planning to invest more than US$10m in facilities over the next 12 months has risen from 31 percent to 38 percent. The percentage of Athletic Directors planning to invest more than US$50m over the next five years has risen from 21 percent to 29 percent.

Drew Berst, Director of Business Development, Sports, AECOM, said:

The data shows some of the unique challenges collegiate athletic programs face. Athletic directors are in the precarious position of needing facilities that serve multiple constituencies. Our data shows that athletic departments are increasingly investing in student-athlete education, and are seeking to maximise the revenue potential of their venues so they can rely less on university and public funding to support their programs.

Dr. Heather Lawrence, Associate Professor of Sports Administration and the AECOM Professor of Sport Business at Ohio University, advised:

This investment in growth is associated with a shift toward support for student-athletes. We’re seeing increased focus on the value of investment in the student-athlete experience both on the field and academically.

In the current survey, Athletic Directors perceived fan amenities (connectivity, food and beverage, premium seating, public space, transportation) to be more important across the board than in 2014, with concessions and premium seating ranked highest.

In 2015, Terry Mohajir, Director of Athletics at Arkansas State University, guided a major upgrade of Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, part of an effort to elevate the program nationally and appeal to fans. The renovation included improved suite offerings and concessions.

Mohajir said:

Not only has the renovation enhanced the game day experience for all Arkansas State fans, it has also allowed us to develop new relationships. When we began this project, we had a vision for a final product that would go above and beyond anyone’s expectations — and that was exactly the outcome.

For attracting recruits, Athletic Directors ranked practice and training facilities higher than locker rooms, academic space, lounges and cafeterias, housing and sports medicine in importance. The importance of academic facilities rose since the 2014 survey.

Reflecting this trend, the University of Arizona broke ground on a new academic centre on February 12.

Greg Byrne, Director of Athletics at the University of Arizona, said:

The C.A.T.S. Academic Center will provide a dedicated academic space to challenge and support our student-athletes. This building will house space for life skills, sports psychology and personal development services, areas that are crucial to the growth of student-athletes. AECOM designed a space that maximised programming and budget, and will help all student-athletes reach their full potential.

To view the full results of the survey, visit Follow the conversation on Twitter using #ADsurvey.


Image: Centennial Bank Stadium. Courtesy: Arkansas State University.



AECOM is built to deliver a better world. We design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries. As a fully integrated firm, we connect knowledge and experience across our global network of experts to help clients solve their most complex challenges. From high-performance buildings and infrastructure, to resilient communities and environments, to stable and secure nations, our work is transformative, differentiated and vital. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM had revenue of approximately US$18bn during fiscal year 2015. See how we deliver what others can only imagine at and @AECOM.


About Ohio University Sports Administration

As the first institution in the world to offer a master-level degree in Sports Administration, Ohio University has been a pioneer in the sports administration and business world for nearly 50 years. Ranked as the top graduate program in the world by Sport Business International for two consecutive years, Ohio continues its mission of producing the top sports business professionals each year.

The two-year MBA/MSA program as well as the executive level Professional MSA program prepares students for leadership positions by combining the business teaching of the Ohio University program with sport-specific knowledge during the MSA program. The dual MBA/MSA degree combination recognizes the growing complexity of the sports, facility and entertainment industries, and reinforces Ohio University’s commitment to preparing students for the leadership challenges of the future. The Professional MSA degree allows working sport executives to continue their education via online classes, live virtual sessions, and face-to-face residencies.

Cowboys Stadium Debuts Final Four Configuration

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As March Madness advances through its 2013 brackets, fans can anticipate a 2014 NCAA Final Four preview when Cowboys Stadium hosts the South Regional on March 29 and 31. This will be the first time Cowboys Stadium has been staged for NCAA hyper-excited fans.  Regionals typically host 40,000-50,000 fans, a warm-up for next year’s big dance at the Arlington, TX venue.

HKS Architects, designers of Cowboys Stadium, are not the new kids on the block with reconfigurations that morph football venues into outstanding basketball arenas. Since 2009, the architectural firm has teamed with the NCAA on Final Four designs. These have included Ford Field in Detroit (2009), Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (2010), Houston Reliant Stadium (2011), New Orleans Mercedes-Benz Superdome (2012) and the Georgia Dome in Atlanta this year.

Mark A. Williams, AIA, principal for HKS Sports & Entertainment Group, said:

The design of the Final Four environment and the leveraging of the venues begins with the centre court configuration. We are able to create a high end atmosphere and experience that begins to communicate and highlight one of the greatest events on the sports and entertainment agenda.

The relationship between HKS and NCAA began when Lucas Oil Stadium opened in 2008.  Built as the home of the Indianapolis Colts, the stadium design included configurations for many sports. Yet, in basketball crazy Indiana, the stadium’s sights were set on hosting the Final Four. The NCAA championship returns to Lucas Oil Stadium in 2015.

“Our approach was to re-examine on of the most loved and passionate sporting events in the country to create an intimate atmosphere that increases capacity while improving overall revenue and fan experience, “said Byron Chambers, director of sports design for HKS Sports & Entertainment.”