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New Stadium Article in Sun-Sentinel

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New Stadium Article in Sun-Sentinel

It sppears that everything is falling into place.


Got $20 million to spend?

If so, you can have your name on Florida Atlantic's proposed football stadium for 15 to 20 years.

If that's too pricey, the clock tower is going for $3 million.

For $1 million you can get the bronze owl statue.

Still too much? Well, the cheapest thing a donor can purchase is a home locker for $5,000.

FAU has launched its fundraising campaign to finance the 30,000-seat, $62 million on-campus stadium that is expected to open in 2010.

Included in the Bring It Home campaign brochure is a long list of naming opportunities, one way FAU is trying to raise enough private funds to build a new home for its football team, which has played at Dolphin Stadium and Lockhart Stadium since its first season in 2001.

"We already have more than $2 million in pledges," FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos said. "We wanted to ride the momentum from the great season we just had, and it appears we have been able to do that."

FAU won the 2007 Sun Belt Conference title to become the youngest team in NCAA history to earn a bowl bid, and the Owls then won the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 22, beating Memphis 44-27.

"It couldn't have lined up any better for us," Angelos said.

FAU would like to have $2 million in cash and $8 million in pledges by this spring before it goes shopping for the bond issue it will need to cover construction of the stadium, said Ken Jessell, the university's vice President for finance.

"I think we will do fine," Angelos said. "It is just a matter of how we structure it, because you are asking people to give you money for something that is still a couple years away."

In addition to the naming rights, FAU is also selling 21 luxury suites and 1,000 club seats.

The suites are listed at $45,000 to $55,000 per year depending on the length of the lease, and club seats are $1,750 per year with a three-year minimum.

FAU visited Central Florida and several other universities with new stadiums for advice and guidance.

UCF opened 45,000-seat, $55 million Bright House Networks Stadium in September, and had sold all 21 of the stadium's luxury suites and 800 club seats just a couple months into its fund-raising campaign.

"We could have sold more. If we had to do it over again, we would have gone for a higher price. We sold them at $2,500 a pair, and I think we could have gotten $3,500," said Tim Leonard, UCF Assistant Athletic Director for Development.

The largest amount of money comes from the sale of the stadium naming rights, and FAU hopes to have one before they seek a loan.

FAU is hoping for a $20 million deal spread out over a period of 15 to 20 years.

"We have had meetings with prospective groups for naming rights," Jessell said.

Such a deal would give lenders added confidence during a time when the credit market has tightened due to the subprime loan problems, Jessell said.

But FAU could still move ahead without a stadium sponsor as long as it generates enough from other naming rights and the sale of suites and club seats.

UCF had already broken ground before it had signed a $15 million naming rights deal with Bright House Networks, which pays UCF $1 million a year for 15 years.

"We decided to move ahead whether we had a deal or not," Leonard said. "We never doubted that we could do it, and things fell into place."

Leonard said he hopes FAU is successful because he has seen firsthand what the stadium has meant for UCF.

"It has exceeded my expectations. It has made a huge impact in our fan base and donor base," Leonard said.

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