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PISCATAWAY, NJ-The Rutgers University football team has enjoyed recent success on the playing field, and the state university’s board of governors wants that success translated into more dollars for the school and its athletic programs. By a vote of 9-1, the board yesterday approved a $102-million expansion of the venue, a project that will add 14,000 seats to the current capacity of 42,000.

Plans for the expansion were initially rolled out in August, with an initial price tag of $116 million attached. Besides the additional seating, the expansion calls for an upgrade of the stadium’s sound system, scoreboard, video screen and common areas, and a new entrance plaza off the adjacent River Road. Work on phase one, including much of the new seating, will start immediately, slated for completion in time for the 2008 football season. The full project is scheduled for completion in August 2009.

University officials say the project is self-supporting, using no public money and having no impact on other university programs. Plans call for financing $72 million of the cost through bonds that will be repaid through increased ticket revenues generated by the expansion. The remaining $30 million will come from private donations.

“We are not taking funds from another area of the university to pay for the expansion,” says Rutgers president Richard McCormick. “Expanding the stadium increases its ability to generate revenue. This, in turn, will reduce the university’s subsidy of athletics and free up funds that can be redirected to finance academic and research programs.”

The lone dissenting vote came from George Zoffinger, who’s also the former CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority. “The road to ruin in filled with good intentions,” Zoffinger said after the vote, specifically questioning the project’s funding mechanism.

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