After the recent announcement of Florida A&M University's (FAMU) new all-sports performance facility, enthusiasm has flared, along with speculation as to how the funds will be produced for the nine million dollar project.
Initially, when the plans were revealed, then-athletic director (AD) Milton Overton was the face and forefront of the spectacular initiative. Now just one month later Overton has stepped down as AD, leaving the job to interim AD John Eason.
Overton stepping down does deal a blow to the leadership side of administration, though Eason enters the position well equipped. Major funding initiative “Investing in Champions” led by Overton has been passed down to the Interim AD. That campaign is expected to surpass the one million dollar revenue point by next season.
Head of sports information and Rattler Productions Vaughn Wilson, spoke about how the facility will be paid for through the revenue from premium seating.
“Funding it was based on the growth we’ve seen in the investing in champion’s campaign; how to make that grow even further is to offer premium seating. Pro teams are tearing down stadiums, what look like good stadiums, because they don’t have premium seating.”
Overton spoke at a 220 Quarterback Club conference where he explained that the project would be looking to access five million dollars from the FAMU Foundation. In addition, he added that the university would need a four million dollar loan that would be paid back through revenue opportunities. Among these include naming rights opportunities that will be available within the facility. For the presentation, Overton used a sample sponsor for the medical facility to explain the opportunity.
During a press conference, newly appointed university president Larry Robinson aimed to put focus on student housing. Robinson spoke to the Tallahassee Democrat at the Orlando Classic Kickoff Luncheon where he stated that student housing came first in the P3 university advancement plan. Robinson also mentioned that the all sports facility as well as a new stadium are in the plans for the future. Though they are expected to be ushered in by 2020, rather than the optimistic 2018 date set by former AD Overton.
Interim AD Eason took a strong stance for the sports facility in a statement he made to the Tallahassee Democrat.
“How many athletic directors are you going to have in that time? How many different head coaches are you going to have? Now, if the university and the athletic community and all of the Rattlers want to continue the process of recycling and bringing new people, then wait until 2020.”
The new all sports facility, while a nine million dollar effort, pales in comparison to the 60 million needed for a new stadium.
Overton’s initial projection for the facility is a 3 story building that will serve all sports on campus, male and female. The facility will offer amenities such as classrooms, expanded medical facilities, as well as improved locker rooms. The facilities most attractive upgrade will come in the form of two thousand premium seats that will be valued at $2500 a seat. In an extra effort to raise funds, former AD Overton initiated another campaign that sells commemorative lockers for $5000.
Since the announcement of the change in command, administration has been tight lipped in regards to the current status of the sports complex.
Outgoing AD Overton as well as the new Eason administration declined to comment on the matter, citing the current transition in leadership.
The need for upgraded facilities is a need that in 2017, can no longer be neglected. The Gallimore-Powell Field was built in 1983 and has seen little advancement since its construction. Bragg Memorial Stadium sits in a similar boat as it was last renovated in 1980, according to famuathletics.com.
Building new facilities will be instrumental to increasing recruitment for students as well as athletes at the university. More students leads to more revenue and better participation by athletes and fans alike. Recruitment is on top of most administrative officials agendas though time will tell how quickly funds will be available to move forward.