Fieldhouse vs. Stadium: A Proposal

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Recently discussion came up, fieldhouse or Stadium. My feeling on the matter is most of our fans and our administrators have been in favor of a fieldhouse first, and then vague service to a lowered track renovated stadium. I am on team stadium, we could lower the track, although I think we should do a total tear down and rebuild.

For some reason I was walking home today thinking about it, and I came up with a great idea:

UB should seat their biggest donors on the wings on the north and south end zones, and let the students and new UB fans enjoy the new club and the 200 level seats.

Donors are already UB fans, they don't need the good seats to enjoy UB, but new fans and students do need the best seats to continue their interest in the Bulls.

New fans will enjoy their experience and eventually become loyal Bulls fans. At that point, they will graduate to true fan village in the North and South end zones, and the next crop of soon-to-be UB fans will take their place in the 200 level seats.

It's a great plan, but I have a feeling after one game in the bad seats, the big donors would quickly throw their support behind #TeamNewStadium.

The mechanics behind the status quo are very hard to dismantle. Those at the top don't need better, they already have best. Those in control have little to gain from a big bold move: if your bold moves backfire, your career is over, if you maintain the status quo, a promotion will find it's way to you.

Yet it's 16 years, two 8 win teams, a MAC Championship, a #5 draft pick later, and we still struggle to get to 22k. We blame the community, when the real blame is the stadium. You have unusable North and South bleachers, you have the track, you have poor concessions you have poor sight lines, your crowd noise escapes out of the many gaping holes, you have a very small and far away video board and you have no weather protection on those cold MACtion nights.

If my proposal for a North and South Club seem extreme, perhaps this proposal is more reasonable.

The West Club was built purposely to provide an exceptional viewing experience at UB Stadium. In exchange for the experience, fans are paying over market value, and the program is presumably using the proceeds to fund a field house.

Theoretically there are 400 seats, requiring a $1,000 annual donation, so: 400*1,000*10= 4 million dollars.

Original plans called for 1,600 seats for 10 million so let's assume the 25% project cost 25% or 2.5 million. Thus the profit from a sold out West Club in years 1-10 = 1.5 million dollars, and a Net Present Value of $588,694.

But take a step back, what actually just happened in this transaction? UB Stadium provides a substandard product. This created demand for a club. For a premium, you can leave the substandard product for a very good product.

Alternatively, we just build the stadium. 75 million dollars, no field house, but a stadium where every seat is a good seat.

Let's say you still have the originally planned 1,600 premium seats on one side for $1,000/ year and you also add 1,600 semi-premium seats on the other side for $500/year. The 3200 seats will bring in 2.4 million. Add 13,800 seats requiring a $250 donation, and 5000 seats reserved for young alumni at $100 donation per seat, you'd bring in a total of $6.35 million annually. The NPV on this project: $645,617, slightly better than the NPV of the club project.

Current Plan
Seat Type Seats Donation
Gicewicz Club 400 $ 1,000.00 $ 400,000.00
Season Donation 2800 $ 100.00 $ 280,000.00
$ 680,000.00 Total Donation
$ 280,000.00 Operating Costs
$ 400,000.00 Annual Construction payback
588,694 NPV
Seat Type Seats Donation
Premium Club 1600 1000 $ 1,600,000.00
Semi-Premium Club 1600 500 $ 800,000.00
Season Donations 13800 250 $ 3,450,000.00
Young Alumni Donations 5000 100 $ 500,000.00
22000 $ 6,350,000.00 Total Donation
$ 280,000.00 Operating Costs
$ 6,070,000.00 Annual Construction payback
645,617 NPV

The plan of action we are currently pursuing results in 400 great seats, 2800 decent seats, and 25,813 bad seats that prevent students and the community from truly enjoying games at UB Stadium. On the bright side, UB can utilize donor money to build a field house.

The new stadium plan would make every seat a good seat, making UB a better value for students and the community. UB would be able to finally build and develop a fan base, and target even more donors, which would pay for the stadium and create increased income for projects in the future.