FIU Stadium rendering

MIAMI-Florida International University has signed a contract with Coral Gables-based Odebrecht Construction Inc. for development of a new on-campus football stadium. It will be built on the same FIU land occupied by the current stadium, which is slated for eventual demolition.

An FIU spokesman tells the new stadium will be constructed in two phases, and some existing stands will remain in use during phase one, which is scheduled for completion by the September 2008 football season. The estimated cost of the total project is $44 million, he says, and $30 million is devoted to the opening phase.

That phase will take stadium capacity to 18,000 in a combination of chairback and bench seating, all with backrests. It includes 1,400 club seats; a 6,500-sf Panther Club, named for FIU’s Miami Panthers; an upper concourse and 19 suites. It will be the only Division I, on-campus football stadium south of Orlando in Florida.

A second, $14-million, phase will add a student support complex and take overall seating capacity to 45,000. This phase is expected to reach completion in late 2009, according to the spokesman.

“This puts FIU on an even playing field in terms of facilities,” says Mario Cristobal, head football coach, in a statement. “This will have a huge impact on recruiting and will give our students and fans something to rally around.” Calling it “the crown jewel of FIU’s athletic department,” athletic director Pete Garcia adds, “The stadium will be the vehicle that will take the department to the next level.” FIU president Modesto Maidique also notes that it will become a gathering place for the university’s community.

Odebrecht has constructed the American Airlines Arena and Carnival Center for the Performing Arts here as well as the expansion of Miami International Airport’s north and south terminals. FIU is the largest university in South Florida and among the country’s 20 largest.