“Between the Palms” is something that Florida Atlantic Owl fans should be hearing a lot more frequently after Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of the Board of Trustees.
After years and years of planning and the developing of the proposed new on-campus stadium and Innovation Village project, one of the biggest obstacles in the process has finally been taken out with a unanimous vote of the Trustees on the stadium's financing plan.
“It’s been a long and argues process, as we have had the Innovation village concept out there for almost five years,” Athletic Director Craig Angelos explained. “To get to a point today, where we have come up with a plan that would meet everyone’s goals and expectations, has been more of a relief than anything else.”
That plan to have an on-campus stadium, which has taken on many forms, was fostered initially by former university President Anthony Catanese.
“It could not have happened without the dream of former President Anthony Catanese, former president Frank Brogan and the new energy and vision of President Mary Jane Saunders,” Head Football Coach Howard Schnellenberger said of today's approval.
Exploring all different types of stadiums design concepts, the university and HSK architects finally came up with a 30,000 seat stadium and financial plan that would keep the cost around 63.5 million dollars.
Naming the image and theme of the stadium, “Between the Palms”, the structure will reflect the local South Florida environment, something that current FAU president Mary Jane Saunders thinks is important.
“I’m from the north, and when we watched games televised that took place in January and February and people were in t-shirts, it really made coming to a university in a different part of the country really attractive,” Saunders said. “By adding palms to that, I think it could be an identifier.”
Not only will the stadium benefit the football program and athletics department, but it is an opportunity to develop the student body and campus as well. By combining the stadium with the new Innovation Village dorms, the university hopes to create a more traditional college campus experience, and allow for the stadium to form as the centerpiece of campus.
Proving themselves as a necessity, the dorms already have a waiting list of around 400 students.
“This will really benefit the whole institution, and really the whole student body itself and make it a more traditional campus,” Angelos said.
Portions of the stadium will also be open to students for hosting events such as watch parties on game days, and will serve as a study area during the week as well.
The stadium financial plan has one more step to go before construction can officially begin - a final approval by the state’s Board of Governors on September 16th, where former FAU president and alumnus Frank Brogan currently resides as Chancellor.