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Why Is There an Upswing in Expansion of College Football Stadiums?

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Why Is There an Upswing in Expansion of College Football Stadiums?
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As April comes to a close and May starts the walk into the summer season for college football, both Texas A&M and Notre Dame released news regarding their stadiums.

The Aggies, as Yahoo! pointed out, are looking to be the latest school to break the 100,000-seat barrier. According to USA Today, Notre Dame is exploring the possibility of growing its stadium as well.

The expansion creep is a very real thing, as schools all over the country are looking into revamping their stadiums, adding seats and trying to better their facilities. Everyone is running the race to have the best, and in some cases, the biggest.

However, it must be noted that not all expansions are created equal. In the cases of Notre Dame and Texas A&M, that is clearly true.

With the Irish, you have the same type of expansion as seen at places like North Carolina, Tennessee and Arizona, as well as the proposed changes at Cincinnati and the new stadium at Baylor. All are more focused on getting better, not just getting bigger. That means luxury suites, premium seating and useful facilities with more seats as a toss-in.

The Tar Heels added the Blue Zone, on the right, which is premium seating and houses the new student-athlete academic center

In the case of Notre Dame, the Irish would be getting space for their non-athletes and athletes, as well as hosting space for events. In addition, the Irish are exploring the premium seating model as a way to help improve the fan experience.

It is a lot less about packing bodies in and a lot more about improving a grand cathedral on the football landscape. Notre Dame is aiming for a stadium that will sell on recruits' visits and still fit the university's master plan.

On the other hand, what you have in College Station, Texas, is a late comer to the "race to 100,000 capacity." The Aggies tasted some success in 2012, and now the goal is to pack more butts into those seats, as KZNE radio host Billy Luicci reported:

As long as they keep winning, they will certainly get their money's worth. 

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A&M made a statement with its expansion. It let the SEC know it wants to compete for the SEC West title and wants a packed house of more than 100,000 watching. More importantly, it let rival Texas know that it is here to stay.

It is a grand show, and the Aggies, unlike some of the other schools doing small additions, made sure that their push would be felt in a big way.

Stadium expansion is a very real trend, just not in the way that Texas A&M is doing things in College Station. Notre Dame epitomizes the type of expansion that we'll continue to see.

There will be small additions in terms of size, but they will be huge pluses when it comes to value. You'll get more luxury seating—premium seats will command premium dollars. You'll see more improvements to facilities than you will see new upper decks and an emphasis on packing butts in seats. They will be the kind of things that wow the big-money stadium-goer or the recruits who could end up playing on the field. 

It is not just a college football trend, American sports in general is going this way in an effort to keep the stadium experience unique in a highly competitive market. 

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