Plans to renovate the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium include lowering the field about three inches and installing a temporary bubble for winter workouts, but the first priorities are the suites and seating that are expected to pay for the upgrades, athletic director Debbie Yow said yesterday.
The first phase, which also includes an addition to Tyser Tower that will help balance the look of the stadium, includes about 500 visiting suites, 50 to 60 box seats and chair rails for the lower bowl area. The athletic department also would like to add seating that is compliant with the American Disabilities Act.
FOR THE RECORD - The football field at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium will be lowered 30 inches as part of planned renovations. An article in yesterday's Sports section incorrectly reported the field would be lowered 3 inches. Also, 500 seats and 50 to 60 suites are planned. The article gave incorrect numbers for the new seats and suites.
The Sun regrets the errors.
Late last month, the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland approved a request from the athletic department to borrow $35 million from the state. While it was the first step toward the renovations, the athletic department is relying heavily on selling the naming rights to the field. That could raise between $10 million and $15 million.
"We look at it in pieces, in phases - if and when we have the money," Yow said. "Nothing happens without the money. In the next few years we are going to be focused on getting this expansion done and the naming rights for the field.
"There is no timeline," she said. "It all has to be done on a cash basis."
The revenue generated from the suites would be used to make other improvements, Yow said. Dropping the field is intended to open up about 3,000 seats in the first 10 rows that are currently obstructed. There is a spring that runs beneath the stadium though, and that could cause complications, Yow said, as well as further expenses.
The winter bubble would be an indoor practice facility for all varsity teams. The facility and the lowering of the field are estimated to cost $6 million.
Note -- Maryland offensive tackle Brandon Nixon will redshirt this year, the resolution to an earlier indefinite suspension for unspecified violations of team rules, a school spokesman said yesterday. Nixon started 11 games at right tackle last year. He missed the entire spring.