Originally created 04/29/00

Georgia Tech studies stadium expansion



ATLANTA -- With a resurgence in ticket sales for football games, Georgia Tech is studying an expansion of Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The proposal being considered by the Georgia Tech athletics board would increase the stadium from the current 46,000 seats to 55,023 within three years. In 1985, the stadium was downsized from 58,000 to 46,000.

"I'm very excited about the possibility of playing in a new stadium in 2003," said coach George O'Leary.

Senior associate athletics director Steve Orsini said the proposal is in the preliminary stages, but supporters of the project are optimistic.

"We are actively pursuing this, but it is not a done deal," Orsini said.

The university also is studying a project to double the capacity of Russ Chandler Stadium, the Yellow Jackets' baseball field, from 2,500 to 5,000.

Orsini said the next step is to consult with users of the stadiums and obtain cost estimates, which he expects to happen at next month's meeting of the athletics board. No public funds will be used, he said.

"We do not have official approval of the board to go forward with anything," Orsini said. "After costs are established, then we would address the ability to raise those funds. We are so early in the process, we don't really know what we would be building."

Orsini said the best case scenario is completion in time for the 2003 season.

O'Leary complained last fall that Tech suffers a home-field and recruiting disadvantage because it plays in a 1913 stadium, the oldest on-campus stadium in NCAA Division I-A.

Tech sold 22,000 football season tickets in 1999, the most since 1976, and was near capacity at its six home games.

The design firm studying the project said the stadium is in immediate need of renovation and recommended replacement of the east upper and lower decks and the addition of a concourse with concession, recreation and fitness space.

The firm also suggested adding north stands with offices and luxury boxes and installing seats in the south end zone.

A separate study of the baseball stadium called for a new playing surface, dugouts, locker rooms, a weight room, a concourse and luxury boxes. Improvements would enhance chances for hosting NCAA regionals.

"Our players and fans deserve a first-class facility," Tech baseball coach Danny Hall said.