The University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, affectionately called ‘The Swamp’ and known for being one of the loudest venues in college football, could be looking at reducing seating capacity as part of an upgrade plan.
Considering reducing general seating at the stadium, which can hold anywhere between 88,548 and 91,916, is part of a long-term vision that would buck the tradition of continually increasing capacity, instead opting for the new philosophy of fan engagement that would see it replaced with fewer, but more premium seats closer to the field.
“There was a time, probably when the north end zone (section) was done in the early 90s, when seat count is all anyone cared about,” Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin told the Associated Press.
“Just cram as many people as possible in there. Obviously that is not (the case) when you talk to people who do facilities and stadiums these days.”
The Swamp hasn’t been upgraded since 2003 where US$50m was spent to install 2,900 club seats and luxury suites.
Much like the University of Arkansas, which is also reducing general seating for premium seating, and the plethora of professional stadia that are adding VIP and hospitality, Stricklin admits teams need to find new ways to attract and entertain fans.
That’s not as important as quality and making sure you’re creating an environment that people want to come and participate in. The days of fans being OK sitting three hours on a piece of aluminum, I think, are gone. So we’ve got to find ways to upgrade the overall quality.”
The University of Florida is currently in the process of a US$100m facilities upgrade, complete with new football complex and baseball stadium set to open in 2019. An overhaul to the stadium is unlikely to be prioritized until this project has been completed.
February 18, 2018