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PB Post/Sun Sentinel Article.

My goodnes the FINALLY understand what it means to the area…

Let's play ball!: FAU seeks approval for stadium financing | www.palmbeachpost.com

A stadium is on the horizon.

The Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, will decide this week whether Florida Atlantic University can move forward with its plans to build a 30,000-seat football stadium on the Boca Raton campus.

The board will decide today or Thursday whether to approve the university's financing of the $70 million stadium.

If the stadium rises, there are high expectations for its overall impact.

A football team that has struggled to find a home could finally impress new recruits and fans with a bastion for Owls football.

The university could take a major step toward shedding its "commuter school" status and realize its goal of becoming a traditional university.

And Boca Raton hopes the growing stature of the university will reverberate throughout the community, spurring economic development and the city's visibility.

"The evolution of Florida Atlantic University is one of the most exciting things happening in higher education today, and on a national scale," said Chancellor Frank Brogan, a former FAU president.

The proposed stadium is part of the Innovation Village project being built on the north side of the campus that includes an alumni center, student housing and recreation and a wellness center.

The university already kicked in $20 million from non-academic sources, such as concessions and parking revenue, to pay part of the $70 million total project cost.

About $45 million would be borrowed from Regents Bank.

If approved, the university expects to begin construction immediately and have the stadium ready by next fall.

And that means home games finally would be held at FAU.

FAU head coach Howard Schnellenberger has been pushing for a stadium since he arrived on campus in 1998 and began putting together the football program.

Since 2003, the Owls have been playing at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Before that, they were at Sun Life Stadium.

Playing in a high school stadium about 15 miles from the Boca Raton campus hampered recruiting and rallying fans, Schnellenberger said

"It has been the missing piece for these many years," he said. "It is a profound piece to the puzzle. It is going to give credibility to what we have been doing. It is going to improve recruiting, improve fundraising and boost attendance."

And university officials expect a new stadium would begin the transformation they seek.

In recent years, the university has built a fitness facility and added restaurants. There has been a waiting list for FAU's residence halls. A new campus theater is under construction.

"With 1,200 new dorm beds, right next to a stadium coming out of the ground, it will be a game-changer for the university," FAU President Mary Jane Saunders said.

University officials expect the stadium would help recruit students who are looking to have a complete college experience that includes a stadium and football.

"Look at the University of Florida," said FAU Provost Diane Alperin. "As their football program grows and their academics grow, more and more students apply, and they can start picking from the top students."

Ayden Maher, FAU student government president, said there's no place on campus that can hold more than 3,000 people. He foresees the stadium would be used for fireworks shows, commencements and concerts.

Commuter students also would enjoy coming on campus for games and special events, Maher said. He predicts attendance at home games would soar.

"I think the stadium is a crucial piece to Florida Atlantic becoming a top-tier institution," said Maher, a 21-year-old senior from Coral Springs. "It will bring attention to all seven of FAU's campuses and sites, not just the Boca campus."

At the same time, Boca Raton hopes to ride the wave of the university's potential growth and visibility, even if residents face traffic jams during home games.

"The positives so far outweigh any possible negatives," Mayor Susan Whelchel said.

If the university can attract high-caliber students, Whelchel imagines many of its graduates would stick around, open businesses and become part of the community.

And it's easy to envision thousands of fans converging on Boca Raton, where they would spend money in restaurants, shops and hotels, said Troy McLellan, president of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it's a significant economic stimulus to Boca Raton," he said.

The city played a key role in supporting the stadium proposal.

In a 2002 campus development agreement between FAU and Boca Raton, the university agreed not to build the stadium until work had begun on an Interstate 95 interchange serving the FAU campus.

But the two sides agreed last year to drop that requirement.

The Florida Department of Transportation continues its planning for an interchange at Spanish River Boulevard, but no money has been allocated for construction.

To deal with the stadium traffic, the university would pay $1.7 million for improvements to the city's traffic signal system on parts of Glades Road, Military Trail, Spanish River Boulevard and Yamato Road to improve traffic flow, especially during stadium events.

It also will continue contributing money to a shuttle service between the Tri-Rail station at Yamato and the campus.

FAU and city traffic engineers have been meeting monthly to get ready for the stadium, said Doug Hess, the city's traffic engineer.

A traffic consultant's study estimated that 10,200 vehicles, most coming from the south, would converge on FAU during a sold-out home game. It would take those vehicles about three hours to get to the stadium and three hours to leave.

But the stadium's impact would be limited. As part of its agreement with the city, FAU can have no more than 15 events there per year, not including events specifically for students and faculty.

Events would include six FAU football games, only one of which could be held during the week.

A maximum of eight Friday-night high school football games could be held.

There could be only one special event per year.

But will Boca Raton became a college town? Whelchel doubts it. As she explains it, Boca Raton is a city with a university, not a Gainesville that is a university with a city around it.

Still, she figures the university would have greater prominence in Boca.

"I think we are what we are," she said. "I think we're going to become, in a very positive way, more aware of our college students and of our college opportunities."

astreeter@SunSentinel.com



I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick @$$ and I'm out of bubble gum.

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Post

PB Post/Sun Sentinel Article.

My goodnes the FINALLY understand what it means to the area…

Let's play ball!: FAU seeks approval for stadium financing | www.palmbeachpost.com

A stadium is on the horizon.

The Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, will decide this week whether Florida Atlantic University can move forward with its plans to build a 30,000-seat football stadium on the Boca Raton campus.

The board will decide today or Thursday whether to approve the university's financing of the $70 million stadium.

If the stadium rises, there are high expectations for its overall impact.

A football team that has struggled to find a home could finally impress new recruits and fans with a bastion for Owls football.

The university could take a major step toward shedding its "commuter school" status and realize its goal of becoming a traditional university.

And Boca Raton hopes the growing stature of the university will reverberate throughout the community, spurring economic development and the city's visibility.

"The evolution of Florida Atlantic University is one of the most exciting things happening in higher education today, and on a national scale," said Chancellor Frank Brogan, a former FAU president.

The proposed stadium is part of the Innovation Village project being built on the north side of the campus that includes an alumni center, student housing and recreation and a wellness center.

The university already kicked in $20 million from non-academic sources, such as concessions and parking revenue, to pay part of the $70 million total project cost.

About $45 million would be borrowed from Regents Bank.

If approved, the university expects to begin construction immediately and have the stadium ready by next fall.

And that means home games finally would be held at FAU.

FAU head coach Howard Schnellenberger has been pushing for a stadium since he arrived on campus in 1998 and began putting together the football program.

Since 2003, the Owls have been playing at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Before that, they were at Sun Life Stadium.

Playing in a high school stadium about 15 miles from the Boca Raton campus hampered recruiting and rallying fans, Schnellenberger said

"It has been the missing piece for these many years," he said. "It is a profound piece to the puzzle. It is going to give credibility to what we have been doing. It is going to improve recruiting, improve fundraising and boost attendance."

And university officials expect a new stadium would begin the transformation they seek.

In recent years, the university has built a fitness facility and added restaurants. There has been a waiting list for FAU's residence halls. A new campus theater is under construction.

"With 1,200 new dorm beds, right next to a stadium coming out of the ground, it will be a game-changer for the university," FAU President Mary Jane Saunders said.

University officials expect the stadium would help recruit students who are looking to have a complete college experience that includes a stadium and football.

"Look at the University of Florida," said FAU Provost Diane Alperin. "As their football program grows and their academics grow, more and more students apply, and they can start picking from the top students."

Ayden Maher, FAU student government president, said there's no place on campus that can hold more than 3,000 people. He foresees the stadium would be used for fireworks shows, commencements and concerts.

Commuter students also would enjoy coming on campus for games and special events, Maher said. He predicts attendance at home games would soar.

"I think the stadium is a crucial piece to Florida Atlantic becoming a top-tier institution," said Maher, a 21-year-old senior from Coral Springs. "It will bring attention to all seven of FAU's campuses and sites, not just the Boca campus."

At the same time, Boca Raton hopes to ride the wave of the university's potential growth and visibility, even if residents face traffic jams during home games.

"The positives so far outweigh any possible negatives," Mayor Susan Whelchel said.

If the university can attract high-caliber students, Whelchel imagines many of its graduates would stick around, open businesses and become part of the community.

And it's easy to envision thousands of fans converging on Boca Raton, where they would spend money in restaurants, shops and hotels, said Troy McLellan, president of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it's a significant economic stimulus to Boca Raton," he said.

The city played a key role in supporting the stadium proposal.

In a 2002 campus development agreement between FAU and Boca Raton, the university agreed not to build the stadium until work had begun on an Interstate 95 interchange serving the FAU campus.

But the two sides agreed last year to drop that requirement.

The Florida Department of Transportation continues its planning for an interchange at Spanish River Boulevard, but no money has been allocated for construction.

To deal with the stadium traffic, the university would pay $1.7 million for improvements to the city's traffic signal system on parts of Glades Road, Military Trail, Spanish River Boulevard and Yamato Road to improve traffic flow, especially during stadium events.

It also will continue contributing money to a shuttle service between the Tri-Rail station at Yamato and the campus.

FAU and city traffic engineers have been meeting monthly to get ready for the stadium, said Doug Hess, the city's traffic engineer.

A traffic consultant's study estimated that 10,200 vehicles, most coming from the south, would converge on FAU during a sold-out home game. It would take those vehicles about three hours to get to the stadium and three hours to leave.

But the stadium's impact would be limited. As part of its agreement with the city, FAU can have no more than 15 events there per year, not including events specifically for students and faculty.

Events would include six FAU football games, only one of which could be held during the week.

A maximum of eight Friday-night high school football games could be held.

There could be only one special event per year.

But will Boca Raton became a college town? Whelchel doubts it. As she explains it, Boca Raton is a city with a university, not a Gainesville that is a university with a city around it.

Still, she figures the university would have greater prominence in Boca.

"I think we are what we are," she said. "I think we're going to become, in a very positive way, more aware of our college students and of our college opportunities."

astreeter@SunSentinel.com



I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick @$$ and I'm out of bubble gum.

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