Byrd project gets OK from UM regents

Stadium will get $50 million renovation



The Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland yesterday approved a request by the University of Maryland, College Park athletic department to borrow $35 million from the state - money that will be used to renovate and expand Byrd Stadium - a board spokesperson said.

The loan, which would eventually be paid back entirely by the athletic department, will allow the school to go ahead with a $50 million project that would add 60 luxury suites, a 150-seat president's deck, and 560 covered spectator seats at the concourse level. The press box inside Tyser Tower will also be expanded, and additional handicapped seating would be added to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Overall, the plan, which would likely be completed by 2008, would increase the net seating by 2,000 to the 54,000-seat stadium. Currently, Maryland and Wake Forest are the only schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference without modern luxury suites.

A source close to the situation said yesterday that the athletic department expects to have an architect hired by October, and the extra $15 million for the project would be covered primarily by fundraising.

The 56-year-old stadium, which is named after former Maryland football coach and university president H.C. "Curly" Byrd, will keep its name, but the athletic department is expected to eventually sell the naming rights to the field, which could raise between $10 million and $15 million.

"We're still going to need a naming rights sponsor," the source said. "We're making proposals to a number of groups."

This is the second major stadium project Maryland has undertaken since the hiring of director of athletics Debbie Yow. In 2002, the school played its final basketball games in the then-47-year-old Cole Field House, and moved into the state-of-the-art, $108 million Comcast Center.

Since football coach Ralph Friedgen arrived, Maryland has built a new scoreboard at Byrd Stadium, a new artificial turf practice facility, remodeled its weight room and dining hall, and renovated the Gossett Football Team House, which houses the football coaches' offices.

Yow, who was traveling yesterday, could not be reached for comment.

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