Missouri executive associate athletic director Tim Hickman provided a guided tour of the Memorial Stadium east-side expansion, which he said is on budget and expected to be finished on time before the 2014 football season commences.
“It’s exciting,” Hickman said. “We number of goals in doing this project. Obviously, getting new premium seating and better amenities for our fans, those were primary, but also to add some stature and some grandeur to the stadium. I think we’ve done some of that too. It gives the stadium some more presence and overall will provide a better experience.”
Hickman said season-ticket sales have gone well — “We’ve made enough to cover our mortgage,” he joked during the tour — and that Missouri was thrilled with the project’s scope and pace.
“The things that we’ve done the last two years to really improve the fan experience — better services, more restrooms and concession stands, more concourse space and a (distributed antennae system) to provide better Wi-Fi — continue to make it one of the best stadiums in the country,” Hickman said.
The renovation will double the street-level concourse width on the east side of the Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1926.
Fans in the new premium area below the upper deck will have access to outdoor seating as well as dining and bar options.
It creates a “different inventory” of viewing options compared to the west-side renovation, which added a similar club prior to the 2013 season but with all seating in an enclosed space.
Hickman said the east-side expansion eliminated approximately 2,800 existing seats.
However, the renovation builds in 1,200 loge/club seats plus an additional 4,200 seats in the upper deck. Those seats will be benches with back rests.
Hickman said the stadium’s capacity next season will be approximately 71,000, which is roughly the same as before last season when the project closed off the 2,800 seats that were being absorbed by the new construction.
He said Missouri officials “liked the openness of the north end” without the bleachers, but that the stadium’s capacity could quickly be boosted to 75,000 by adding those seats back in above and below the iconic rock “M.”