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Design & Development

Expansion plans set out for college football venues

The University of Missouri (UM) has approved its $250m (£200.6m/€234.3m) Memorial Stadium Improvements Project, while the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) is proceeding with expansion of Jerry Richardson Stadium.

Missouri’s Board of Curators yesterday (Thursday) unanimously approved the hiring of Kansas City architecture firm DLR Group, which was first announced in December, to design the project to transform and modernise Memorial Stadium, the home facility for Mizzou Football since 1926.

Designed to preserve the stadium’s tradition-rich elements while embracing a vibrant future for Mizzou, the Memorial Stadium Improvements Project will enhance the fan experience by further enclosing the north end of the stadium and adding a variety of new premium seating options at the north edge of the stadium, along with other upgrades throughout the facility.

The current schedule developed by DLR Group expects the project to be complete by the start of the 2026 college football season, coinciding with the 100-year anniversary of Mizzou’s first game at Memorial Stadium.

“We are competing in a dynamic, highly ambitious environment in intercollegiate athletics and across the totality of higher education,” said Board chair, Robin Wenneker.

“We are momentum investing in Memorial Stadium to elevate Mizzou’s national brand and deliver a world-class facility that creates year-round connections for Tiger Nation within the campus, the community and the state of Missouri. We want to be pace setters and establish the new standard for success.”

Memorial Stadium planned renovations envision up to 160,500 square feet of new construction, including 98,000 square feet that will be enclosed as part of new premium seating areas. The project will explore the development of 14 field-level open-air suites and two new club sections, including a field level 300-person Rock M Club built directly under the historic Rock M Hill behind the current north end zone.

The renovations could add up to 51 new suites in total, including 28 cabanas featuring large social spaces in covered settings. New premium spaces will also include loge seating options and mezzanine club luxury outdoor seats.

DLR Group’s design will seek to preserve Rock M Hill while providing general admission seating for up to 2,600 fans.

“Of utmost importance, the improvements will enable our student body, alumni and fans to enjoy an unparalleled exciting game-day experience while viewing the best football in the country,” said UM curator, Bob Blitz.

As part of the project, UM will upgrade restrooms and concessions throughout the stadium and convert the current field-level Bunker Club in the south end zone to a team recruiting centre. Other planned features include expanded event space designed for Mizzou Athletics and other Mizzou programs to host events; an upgraded stadium sound system; multi-coloured LED field lighting; stadium-wide Wi-Fi improvements; and upgraded ribbon boards throughout the stadium.

The renovations could push the stadium’s capacity from its current level of 62,621 to closer to 65,000 depending on finalised programming plans. In 2023, Mizzou led the Southeastern Conference in attendance growth for the second consecutive season and sold out the final five home games — the program’s first stretch of five consecutive sellouts since 1980.

The plans for facilities upgrades were first disclosed in October, with $50m having already been secured for stadium renovations through an anonymous donor. Interim athletic director, Marcy Girton, said the university is currently “working on a financial plan”.

She added, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune: “We’re fully prepared on our fundraising side to raise a substantial amount. There’s going to be some revenue generation coming from our leadership, gifts, and also some revenue from the seating as well. So, we feel very good from a financial standpoint. We feel really good about this project.”

Multi-phase plan for Jerry Richardson Stadium

In other college football news, the UNC Charlotte Board of Governors has approved a $60m phase one expansion of Jerry Richardson Stadium, home of the Charlotte 49ers.

Designed with future expansion in mind, the project builds upon the groundwork laid during the Advance Planning phase launched last year. The expansion will feature the construction of a state-of-the-art tower and the addition of stadium capacity.

Notable additions include seven luxury suites, club seats, loge boxes, ledge seats and additional general seating. Additionally, the club level will serve as a dedicated team dining area, meeting facility, and conference space, enabling year-round utilisation.

With this initial phase, the stadium’s capacity will increase from its current level of 15,314 seats to 18,170, laying the foundation for future growth. Plans are already in motion for phase two expansion to a capacity of 21,000 as additional funds are secured.

UNC Charlotte said the phased approach enables Charlotte Athletics to “proceed promptly” with the project, maintaining momentum while fundraising continues for subsequent phases. The enhanced facilities aim to attract opponents with regional and national fan bases and position the University to host competitions that drive visitor traffic and economic impact.

“We are grateful for the private and public investments in this expansion, particularly from generous donors and the match from the NC General Assembly,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “Their support allows us to pursue this ambitious endeavour, underscoring UNC Charlotte’s dedication to providing a top-tier athletic environment for our students, alumni and the broader community.”