A $102 million stadium expansion project will allow more Scarlet Knights fans to see Rutgers University football games first hand as school officials yesterday approved $72 million of borrowing to fund the project.
Only increased ticket sales will back the bonds, and not tuition hikes or additional student fees, according to a Rutgers press release. Gov. Jon Corzine and Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, in December announced they would lead a fundraising campaign for the additional $30 million that is needed. Corzine will chip in $1 million towards the expansion project, with Lesniak committing $10,000 of his own funds.
“We are not taking funds from another area of the university to pay for the expansion,” said Rutgers president Richard McCormick in a press release. “Expanding the stadium contributes to the excellence of the football program and increases its ability to generate revenue. This will, in turn, reduce the university’s subsidy of athletics and free up funds that can be redirected to finance superior academic and research programs.”
The expansion plan will add 14,000 new seats to bring the stadium’s capacity to nearly 56,000. The school has a current wait list of 11,000 fans looking to attend games. Rutgers expects to complete the project by fall of 2009.
Earlier plans included the state granting the school a $30 million, long-term, no-interest loan to support additional capacity. Officials squashed that proposal after voters in November rejected a $450 million bond referendum for stem cell research while a $200 million open space borrowing initiative passed with a tight 54% to 46% margin, indications that New Jersey citizens were not keen on additional state debt.
The stadium is located on Rutgers’ main campus in New Brunswick, which has a total undergraduate enrollment of 26,691.