Air Force hoping to start Falcon Stadium renovations after season

FRANK SCHWAB Updated: August 5, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: August 5, 2012

After years of discussion, Air Force is hoping that designs to renovate Falcon Stadium start to become reality after the 2012 football season is over.

Athletic director Hans Mueh outlined plans for a potential $20 million renovation of the football stadium. Improvements to the stadium have been discussed in general terms by the athletic department publicly over the past few years, but Mueh revealed some of the details and added that he hopes construction can begin in a few months.

The Falcons will need to raise funds for the improvements, and Mueh stressed that the project hasn’t been finalized. But here are the key parts of the preliminary plan:

- Removing the east bleachers and adding an open concourse from which fans can congregate and the field can be seen.

- Adding private skyboxes to the north and south of the press box that will have indoor and outdoor seating.

- Getting rid of the chain link fence around the stadium and replacing it with brick pillars.

- Expanding the press box by moving the back wall farther out to the west.

- Adding restrooms and concessions, mostly in the area where the east bleachers are located now, and adding office space.

- Putting in elevators to help the stadium meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

“It’s a beautiful stadium, but we want to take it to the next level,” Mueh said.

The changes, particularly to the east bleachers, could take the capacity of the stadium from about 47,000 to 42,000, Mueh said. Although that means fewer tickets to sell, the Falcons rarely sell out, and lowering the capacity could put more of a premium on Air Force tickets. And adding private boxes would be a revenue generator for Air Force.

Mueh said the structure of the stadium would allow for skyboxes to the east and west of the press box. He said he is hoping to start with four boxes on each side of the press box.

While all of the plans are “a dream in progress,” as Mueh put it, and subject to changes, he said $20 million should be enough to complete the project as the athletic department envisions it. Mueh said the USAFA Endowment, which gathers private donations for projects such as the $15.5 million Holaday Athletic Center, has started working on raising funds. The entire project could be done over a few offseasons.

Making improvements to Falcon Stadium has been a goal for football coach Troy Calhoun.

“It’s beyond crucial,” Calhoun said. “It’s not just playing games there, but more importantly, it’s where graduation occurs.

“When it was built in 1962 it was state of the art. Really, nothing has been done to it in the last quarter century.”

Mueh said Falcon Stadium is one of the most visible pieces of the academy, and for some people, the only place they’ll visit on Air Force grounds. Calhoun estimated that between home football games, lacrosse games and graduation, about 300,000 people attend events at the stadium every year.

“The key is to get beyond the discussion phase,” Calhoun said. “When you get to the point where a shovel hits the dirt, we’re beyond talk.”

Contact Frank Schwab: 476-4891

Twitter @GazetteAirForce

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