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In a continuation of a longer-term plan developed more than three years ago, the Ohio State University’s Department of Athletics has announced a proposed four-year renovation project for Ohio Stadium that will preserve and upgrade parts of the iconic facility.

Gene Smith, Vice President and Wolfe Foundation-endowed athletics director, announced the plans during a news conference at the stadium earlier this week.

The US$42m project will:

  • restore and re-coat the 94-year old concrete on C-deck
  • upgrade power distribution systems for the east, west and south stands
  • improve and upgrade B-deck to include better lighting, larger televisions, an improved sound system and better scoreboards, which will improve the experience of fans with obstructed-view seats
  • renovate the premium seating area to consolidate the university suites into one University Suite and add 35 loge boxes and 12 luxury suites

The University has been planning for this upgrade for several years. In 2014, seats were moved for the South Stands expansion. Prior to 2014, stadium seating capacity was 102,329. The 2014 project increased it to 104,944.

In order to complete the next phase of the project, as announced this week, an estimated 2,600 seats will be removed beginning with the 2018 season, returning the stadium to a gameday seating capacity of 102,854. Those seats will not be available for the 2016 season ticket holder seat selection process. However, they will be available this season for alumni and public purchase on a single-game basis. Even though seats will be removed, there will still be an overall gain of 525 seats over the pre-2014 south stand expansion. Most of the seats lost will be on B-deck in areas that can have obstructed views and where some fans traditionally consider the view to be less than ideal.

The proposed plan is subject to approval by the university Board of Trustees.

Smith advised:

We are committed to providing our fans, players and coaches with one of the best facilities in the nation. We knew we had to get some of this done in order to avoid future degradation of the cement on C-deck. At the same time, we have fans requesting upgraded seating options. We see this as a great opportunity to accomplish both projects. It’s an important investment in the stadium that is beloved by so many.

The proposed renovation will be funded by the Department of Athletics using auxiliary funds, debt and private donations. Ohio State’s athletics program is the largest of any public university, with 36 broad-based programs for men and women. The athletics department is completely self-supporting; it receives no state tax or student tuition dollars. In fiscal year 2015, the department transferred more than US$35m in assessments to the University. Transfers of funds from the department to the University are primarily made possible by the events that occur in historic Ohio Stadium. These funds broadly benefit Ohio State’s academic mission.

Ohio Stadium is one of the most recognisable landmarks in all of sports. Built in 1922, at a cost of US$1.3m and refurbished in 2001 for slightly more than US$194m, the horseshoe-shaped stadium is a monument to college football. Since the opening game against Ohio Wesleyan on Oct. 7, 1922, more than 36 million fans have streamed through the stadium’s portals.

Project timeline:

  • Design and build process completed in autuum/fall 2016
  • C-deck concrete restoration takes place in phases from 2017-2020
  • Removal of 2,600 seats begins with the 2018 season
  • University Suite expansion completed in August 2017
  • Suites and loge seats completed in 2019

Smith added:

We are committed to completing this process in the most fan-friendly manner as possible, recognising the loyalty of our longtime season ticket purchasers and donors and providing the seating options that our fans want.

The expansion of premium seating will also allow us to provide spaces for non-football events such as weddings, lunches, banquets and corporate meetings.


Image courtesy: Turner Construction.

The 2011 renovation of the Ohio State University’s historic football stadium’s south stands and scoreboard, included lowering the playing field more than 14ft, adding 81 suite boxes, 11,000 seats – the stadium now seats 98,000 – a stadium club, and a press box, while working around four football seasons. The project also included major ADA upgrades and renovation work to the concourse level, including upgraded restrooms and concessions stands. Turner won the 2002 AGC Build America Award and the 2002 AGC of Ohio Build Ohio Award for this project.