Time and change has surely shown within the walls of one of the most iconic stadiums in college sports.
Ohio State announced on March 29 plans to undergo a $42-million renovation project to Ohio Stadium in an effort to preserve and upgrade the 94-year-old facility.
The four-year project, which is part of a long-term renovation plan for the stadium, will include concrete restoration, expansion to suites and seating alterations.
Renovations are set to occur in phases, beginning in 2017 and ending in 2020.
Vice President and Director of Athletics Gene Smith said during a press conference at the Ohio Stadium Recruit Room that the multiple-phase project is an investment in the maintenance and modernization of the ‘Shoe, adding that some of the renovations will be “significant to the long-term health” of the stadium.
“We’re committed to providing our fans, players and coaches with the best facilities in the nation,” he said. “We knew we had to get some of this done in order to avoid future degradation of the cement on C-deck … At the same time, we have fans requesting upgraded seating options. We see this as a great opportunity to accomplish both projects. It’s an important investment in the stadium that is beloved by so many.”
The project will be funded by the Department of Athletics through auxiliary funds, debt and private donations, according to a university release.
The concrete restoration portion of the project will restore and recoat concrete on C-deck, which lines the top tier of the east side of the stadium and wraps around to the west.
The project also calls for improvements to B-deck, in which view can currently be obstructed. These upgrades include improved lighting, the installment of larger televisions, an improved sound system and new scoreboards.
This renovation will result in the removal of some seating on B-deck, with overall seating capacity still exceeding that of 2014. That year, 2,600 seats were added near the south end zone in anticipation of this plan, Smith said.
Seats expected to be removed due to renovation are set to be available for single-game purchase this upcoming season. The removal of 2,600 seats is expected to begin in 2018.
Total seating capacity by the beginning of 2018 is expected to be 102,854, Smith said.
Although the stadium’s present capacity is 104,944, Smith said he is comfortable with the loss of seating, which will raise capacity about 500 seats from the pre-2014 level.
“This is right. We’re very careful in making sure whatever we do aesthetically fits what we have in place,” he said. “We’re committed to completing this project in the most fan-friendly manner as possible. We’ll be careful as we manage this renovation throughout the seasons.”
Planned renovations to the “premium seating” area includes the addition of 35 loge boxes and 12 luxury seats, as well as merging the existing university suites into one University Suite. The expansion plan is expected to conclude in August of 2017, while the loge seats and suites are expected to be completed in 2019.
Smith said this space is expected to better accommodate nonfootball-related events, such as weddings, banquets and business meetings.
The project also calls for upgrades to power distribution systems for the east, west and south stands. With this improvement, three transformers will be added to increase power.
Despite the stated needs for significant renovations, Smith said Ohio Stadium is not at risk of a full reshoeing and will remain as the home of the Buckeyes. He noted that the 2001 facility renovations are expected to have added an additional 75 years to its lifespan.
“This total plan, in my view, will significantly enhance our opportunity as we move forward to the future schedules that we have in football to make sure our fans have a fan-friendly environment that will allow us to continue to provide remarkable experiences for our fans,” he said.
The renovation plan is subject to OSU Board of Trustees approval.