Towson University plans stadium Facility would hold 11,000 seats, house five athletic programs

November 11, 1998|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Towson University and Maryland Stadium Authority officials unveiled plans yesterday for a $28 million expansion to the university's football stadium that would double the facility's seating.

Calling the upgraded stadium a "regional sports complex," officials said the proposed 11,000-seat facility would house five of the university's athletic programs as well as provide a location for high school tournaments and community events.

Towson residents, however, worried about traffic and noise from the stadium, were reserving judgment on the proposal until they could hear more details.

"We're next to a university. For students to use the field is a given. One of our concerns is nonstudent uses," said Vince Nesline, president of Southland Hills Improvement Association, a neighborhood group representing homeowners near the stadium.

Plans call for the addition of 5,500 seats, a four-level field house that would provide locker rooms and meeting facilities, expanding concessions and replacing the grass playing field with artificial turf.

No new parking would be provided nearby, but university officials said sufficient parking exists throughout the campus to accommodate the expanded stadium.

"We are very excited about the possibilities," said Wayne Edwards, Towson athletics director.

Although university officials have talked about expanding the football stadium for years, the university's move up to Division I-AA from Division II last year made the need for expansion more urgent, he said.

And the closing of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore has created a need for a facility that can entertain local sports events, like the annual rival game between Baltimore's City College and Polytechnic Institute, said Bruce Hoffman, director of Maryland Stadium Authority, which helped prepare the proposal.

"It will be a wonderful venue for the community," he said.

Hoffman said the funding for the facility -- which the school will seek from the state -- could be spread over two fiscal years. The university will make its first request to the General Assembly in the coming session. University officials also will be asking for private donations.

"I'm looking for a rainbow," said University President Hoke Smith.

If the General Assembly approves money for the expansion, construction could start next summer and be completed by 2001, Hoffman said.

Architects Cho, Wilks & Benn and Ellerbe Becket have been hired to design the facility.

"It sounds like something very exciting," said Paul J. Schwab, of Towson Business Association.

Neighbors are wary about the possible impact of expanding the stadium, where attendance rarely exceeds 3,000.

"We'll be interested in how they manage the parking and traffic flow in and out of the stadium," said Betsy Kahl, president of Greater Towson Council of Community Associations.

"We understand the concerns," said Stephen S. Showers, the university's associate vice president of facilities management. "Wanting to be a good neighbor is something we've given a lot of thought to."

Pub Date: 11/11/98

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