PISCATAWAY, NJ-In a state where sports arena construction is now the norm, add another one. To a list that includes the Prudential Center in Newark, a new Giants/Jets stadium in East Rutherford and a new soccer stadium for the Red Bulls in Harrison, add a collegiate project. Rutgers University is looking to expand its football stadium here, a project that could cost upwards of $116 million.
University officials won’t comment on the specifics, but according to published reports, the project would add 12,000 seats in the open end of the stadium, as well as club seats and luxury boxes, boosting the seating capacity to 55,000. With a current seating capacity of 41,500, Rutgers Stadium is the smallest in the Big East Conference.
Earlier this year, the university hired HOK Sport to review the existing stadium and design an expansion, according to information released this week by Rutgers. The contract calls for an expenditure of nearly $1 million, and the project is also listed on HOK Sport’s website.
“We’re still working things through,” says Rutgers athletic director Robert Mulcahy, in a statement. “We are reviewing designs and concepts. We realize that there is a need, and we are looking to address it.”
The proposed expansion is being sparked by the Rutgers football team’s recent success on the field. That success has led to a complete sell-out of this fall’s eight-game home schedule, and for the first time in school history there is a waiting list for season tickets. The current stadium was completed in 1994 on the site of the previous Rutgers Stadium, a 23,000-seat facility that was a 1930s WPA project.
According to sources at the university, the plan is to have the expansion completed in time for the 2009 season. Funding would include a $30 million grant from the state, the sources say, and the university would raise the rest through a bond issue. A public institution, Rutgers is New Jersey’s state university.