We have all seen it for about two years now. The athletic department unveiled the famous “Master Plan” with gleaming renderings of a transformed Ross-Ade Stadium a while ago. They have been basically a dream ever since, with the main scoreboard relocated high above the north end zone, a gorgeous new South End zone building, and so much more. Unfortunately, 9-39 over the last four years have left many of those plans in the dream stage. The performance facility attached to the Mollenkopf and the new lights at Ross-Ade Stadium will soon be complete for a cost of close to $70 million, but that is probably only a taste of what Mike Bobinski wants to do.
The new Big Ten TV rights deal kicks in this year and there are some estimates that it could mean as much as $50 million this year alone for schools getting a full share (Thanks, James Smart for starting the Big Ten). That can quickly pay off the existing debt of the performance facility, and Mike Bobinski wants to keep building and investing. Mike Carmin of the Lafayette Journal & Courier wrote today about what is next:
An updated game day locker room inside Ross-Ade Stadium. At least that’s athletic director Mike Bobinski’s plan. How fast Bobinski can fulfill this goal is the question.
Populous – the architecture firm which designed the performance facility – is currently putting together cost projections before Bobinski moves forward.
“It’s a function of dollars,” Bobinski said. “Honestly, I don’t know if it’s $2 million, $3 million or $4 million. Once we get our arms around the scope of that project and combine that with the expansion of our academic center, we’ll have a better idea.”
The article also states that the new game day locker room would be in conjunction with transforming the current football locker room into new academic space since it is in the Brees building. As it stands now, the main football locker room will be in the new performance facility, while the team will continue to use an area underneath the east stands for pre-game and halftime.
That’s only a small part of it, however. Eventually, that new locker room (which will have Spartan accommodations by Bobinski’s own admission) would become the new visitor’s locker room:
“While we want to make it functional, we don’t want to make it overly nice,” Bobinski said, laughing. “We want to create a space that works and accommodates our team.”
The south end zone project remains high on Bobinski’s list.
Ideas to improve the space - and other areas of the stadium - have been taken to the point of concept. Those include technology upgrades, video boards and a new sound system along with structural steel issues that need to be addressed.
The current visitor’s locker room would be gone with any new South End Zone structure, so the visitors would take over the renovated game day space and I would assume Purdue would have a new, fancy game day locker room as part of the South End Zone structure.
Of course, this is not cheap:
The total cost for all of those improvements would be “very significant from an investment perspective,” Bobinski said. He added there’s no hard number on the cost but it could reach $300 million.
Gah! For perspective, the Mackey Arena complete renovation with new practice facility and all those bells and whistles was just under $100 million. The last extensive renovation to Ross-Ade, which expanded the concourse and built the Pavilion, was $70 million (or $93.2 million in today’s dollars).
Eventually, Bobinski wants to build spaces in the south end zone that are useable outside of the seven home games every season. The opportunity to improve areas around the athletic department – nutrition, sports performance and sports medicine, etc. – and collaborate with academic departments around campus will be part of the long term plan.
In the end, the south end zone remains what Bobinski called “the ultimate prize.” But it’s not going to happen overnight.
“That is the cherry on top of the sundae here,” he said. “The reality is that has some lead time. It’s not immediate. We don’t have the funding capacity, we don’t have debt capacity and the resources aren’t available yet. You can’t build anything without a way to pay for it.
“I can assure that’s not left our thinking at all but it’s doing it in a way that is logical and makes sense, and makes fiscal sense.”
So that is that. I love that Bobinski is thinking big and trying to be proactive in making these big plans happen. I would take a wild guess and say that unless Jeff Brohm comes out of nowhere and starts putting us in the College Football playoff every year we’re probably at least 5 years from starting construction on the new South End Zone facility.
It is nice to dream though. And if you’re a billionaire alum that feels generous why don’t you give Mike a call?