Aggies Renovate Stadium: What SEC Schools Will Respond?
Texas A&M has decided to renovate its stadium, moving from a seating capacity of 82,589 to a capacity of 102,500.
The renovations, which will take place during the next two offseasons, will bring Kyle Field to No. 3 in the nation and No. 1 in the SEC in terms of capacity. The 102,500 will be a shade more than Tennessee's Neyland Stadium, which currently sits 102,455.
The only schools with larger capacities are Michigan Stadium, a.k.a. "The Big House," which seats 109,901 and Penn State's Beaver Stadium, which seats 106,572.
By the time the renovations are complete at Texas A&M, and other scheduled renovations are completed at other SEC stadiums, here's how the stadiums will rank in terms of capacity:
|Kyle Field||Texas A&M||102,500|
|Ben Hill Griffin Stadium||Florida||88,548|
|Williams-Brice Stadium||South Carolina||80,250|
|Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium||Arkansas||80,000|
|David Wade Stadium||Mississippi State||61,337|
|Vaught-Hemingway Stadium||Ole Miss||60,580|
*Kentucky is in the process of receiving bids for an expansion on Commonwealth Stadium with no estimated capacity predicted. However, nobody expects them to come close to reaching the top in the SEC.
But for the schools that are at or near the top, will there be any type of response to Texas A&M's move? Which schools could possibly react?
Neyland Stadium is the most obvious selection here considering its capacity is only 45 seats short of Kyle Field's projected capacity.
While the stadium completed its latest renovations in 2010, one has to think they'll do something to make up for those 45 seats.
For the longest time, I can remember Tennessee fans taking pride in the fact that they were the largest stadium in the SEC. Now, that won't be the case.
There has to be somewhere they can make up the difference. After all, it's only 45 seats.
Many people would think it would be crazy, but even after completing its most recent renovations in 2010, Alabama still has a little more space it can work with.
For the areas with seats instead of metal bleachers, Alabama could replace those seats with bleachers or decrease the size of the seat by one or two inches all around the stadium, which could increase capacity.
While it's unlikely it would decrease the seat size, if Alabama wanted to have the largest capacity in the SEC, they could go with the bleachers.
Other than that, I don't see the University of Alabama expanding Bryant-Denny Stadium again.
If another renovation was to happen at Georgia, it likely would be controversial. The only place Georgia could really add a section is along Sanford Drive where it has a partially-open end.
While there are seats in the lower half, the upper half only has the scoreboard as pedestrians can catch a view of games from the bridge.
Much like the discussed electronic scoreboard at Wrigley Field, this would be a controversial move for fans who are unable to get into the stadium, but it would also put another 15,000-20,000 seats in Sanford Stadium. That would make it the largest stadium in the country if the number was on the higher end. At the stadium's current capacity, it would have to add at least 17,155 seats to become the largest.
The west end should remain open. The visible interconnection with and view of the central campus is more than just a pretty scene — it is a powerful statement about the appropriate place of athletics at a great public university.
Regardless of that train of thought, history and tradition have been thrown out the window over the last five years in the name of making more money. So why not throw it out the window at UGA?
It's the one stadium that has room to grow. And it could potentially be a huge recruiting tool to tell high school players they could compete in the largest stadium in the country.
But as many students and fans would agree, losing that iconic view would cause an uproar that would take a long time to get over.