Oregon Football: It's Time to Renovate Autzen Stadium (Pictures)
Autzen Stadium was last renovated following the 2001 football featuring the 11-1 Oregon Ducks led by senior quarterback Joey Harrington.
That team ushered in the new era of Oregon Ducks football.
The fast offenses, the ESPN GameDay appearances, the BCS talk every season—it all started in 2001.
And, really, it all started with a renovation to Autzen Stadium. It went from 41,698 to its current capacity of 54,000.
With all of Oregon's success these past 15 years, it is now time for Phil Knight to step up big time and renovate Autzen Stadium once more.
Let's look at five aspects of this renovation.
No. 5: 110-Percent Sellouts
The University of Oregon boasts the second-highest sellout capacity in all of college football. The Ducks average 59,398 fans a game. That is 110 percent of what Autzen Stadium holds. The record at Autzen is 60,055 in the 2011 football season.
Only the Alabama Crimson Tide put more fans into their stadium per game at 110.51 percent. It's basically a tie.
That means that about 5,000 to 6,000 fans more than capacity come to every Oregon Ducks football game. There is no question that Oregon could easily fill the new stadium.
If they did the exact renovation on the North side that they did in 2002 for the South side, the new capacity would be 68,000. We already know that Oregon can fill 60,000 no problem (since they do it nearly every game). The University would then be asking 8,000 more people to purchase Ducks tickets than normally do.
Already 41,000 people have season tickets, so that means that only 13,000 tickets are currently available to the general public.
Based on recent ticket prices for Ducks games, there are more than 13,000 people who want to go to Oregon football games.
It is time to expand.
No. 4: Phil Knight Is Willing
Oregon always turns to Phil Knight to build new buildings, stadiums and arenas. He has been willing as recently as this past season, proving it by giving the money to build the new football operations building. It will be unmatched by any sports operations building in America.
If Oregon wanted to expand Autzen Stadium, would he drop another $150 million for his alma mater? Renovating the South side cost him $80 million back in 2002, so it's difficult to determine what making over the North side would cost now.
All I know is that he has the money and he would be willing to further put his lasting mark on the school he loves so much.
No. 3: The Time to Act Is Now
The Oregon Ducks are fresh off their first-ever appearance in the BCS national championship game. Every season now starts with the expectation of the national championship. It used to be that the Rose Bowl was the prize that was aimed for. That is now an acceptable runner-up prize to their ultimate goal.
They have the most coveted and interesting coach in all of college football. Chip Kelly has the intrigue of prestigious NFL and NBA coaches and much of the college football world. He thinks differently—like a Steve Jobs or Walt Disney.
ESPN's College GameDay show has visited Autzen Stadium for Ducks' games six times. They love the Ducks. Wouldn't it be nice to have a daunting stadium behind the GameDay crew for the whole nation to see?
No. 2: Everyone Else Is Renovating
The rival Washington Huskies have set a standard for Oregon to follow.
If there's one thing the University of Oregon hates it is the University of Washington Huskies.
Oregon hates being behind the Huskies in a football game and in any other area.
Well, guess what Ducks' fans. Those hated Washington Huskies are less than two years away from having the most beautiful stadium in all of college football. That's right. Washington will again be No. 1.
Oregon fans can no longer tease the Huskies for having a track around their football field like a high school team. Here's the worst part: Only separated by a five-hour drive on Interstate 5, wouldn't recruits want to go to Washington instead of Oregon?
It's true, Oregon does have a lot of other nice facilities, but Washington isn't that far behind in those. Plus, a recruit must actually visit a university to see anything besides the stadium the team plays in.
Right now, Washington has a much nicer stadium. Much, much nicer. Be afraid, Ducks' fans.
No. 1: Intimidation Factor
What the seating chart would look like at the new Autzen Stadium.
Let's face it, Autzen Stadium is now only intimidating because of the football team that runs down the tunnel every Saturday. Don't get me wrong, that's a big reason to be intimidated of Autzen Stadium, but it's just not what it used to be.
The nation is finding out the Eugene secret: Autzen Stadium is tiny. The fans can get loud, but the stadium itself is microscopic of what you'll find at virtually all other big-time colleges.
If the Oregon Ducks were to renovate Autzen from 54,000 to 68,000, it would then be 33rd largest stadium in America. Right now it is 51st.
For a team that is trying to be a perennial Top 10 team in America, having the 51st largest stadium in the NCAA is kind of embarrassing.
Oregon is known for having all of the best facilities in the nation, so why shouldn't their football stadium be the most state of the art and intimidating around?
It's time for Phil Knight to step up and request an Autzen renovation. If Oregon is truly a national power, they need to play in a big boy house. It's time to get competitive in the stadium game.
Renovate Autzen Stadium.