Nippert Stadium renovations set to begin

Long-anticipated renovations to Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati are set to begin in December, with a target completion date set for the start of the 2015 season, athletic director Whit Babcock announced Tuesday.

Great news all the way around for Cincinnati, which has been discussing renovation and expansion for years now. Athletic director Whit Babcock set project plans in motion last December when he unveiled his proposed changes. The UC Board of Trustees formally approved the renovation and expansion Tuesday.

The project, estimated to cost between $80 and $85 million, will utilize private donations and premium seating revenues as funding. No university general funds will be used.

Construction on the west and east sides of the stadium is set to begin first. Because construction is expected to take over a year, there is a possibility the Bearcats won't be able to play in Nippert Stadium for the 2014 season. Paul Brown Stadium is being considered as an alternate site for that season.

Houston is in a similar situation as it works to complete its new stadium and will be forced to use other venues to play its home games for 2013.

As for Cincinnati, here are a few of the new highlights fans can expect to see when the renovation is done:

  • A new press box structure will be built, adding suites, scholarship club seats and patio suites/loge boxes.

  • The west concourse will be renovated, featuring concession stands and restrooms.

  • Improvements on the east side include expanded and additional concession offerings and restroom facilities along with enhanced fan traffic flow, including the building of skywalks to connect the upper deck with the gameday brick plaza on O’Varsity Way.

  • Seating capacity is expected to expand by 5,000 to 40,000 seats.

Original construction began on Nippert Stadium in 1915 and was completed in 1924. Cincinnati has used the Nippert site as a playing field since 1901, making it the second-oldest playing site in the nation for college football behind Penn's Franklin Field (1895).

"This project exemplifies our desire to develop a top-notch college football gameday experience and compete with the nation’s elite," Babcock said in a statement. "We are going to enhance an already-strong home-field advantage by wrapping in the west side of the stadium. Nippert Stadium is an integral part of our brand at UC and this project should make a strong statement as to our overall direction as a department and University."