Blueprint board denies FAMU funding for Bragg

Photo of Bragg Memorial Stadium courtesy: Rattler Nation

In a marathon session lasting eight hours, the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency convened last week for its first meeting of the year, tackling significant decisions on various projects. Among them was the fate of Florida A&M University’s request for additional funding to continue renovations at Bragg Memorial Stadium.

Initially granted $10 million in 2020 for renovations, FAMU returned to the board seeking an additional $15 million due to escalating construction costs. However, the board opted to deny this request, signaling a significant shift in funding strategy.

As recently as 2022, a sharply divided board approved more than $20 million for renovations at Florida State University’s football stadium.

According to the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency agenda, “At the September 21, 2023, Intergovernmental Agency (IA) Board meeting, FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson submitted a $15 million funding request for Bragg Memorial Stadium Renaissance Project, Phase 3 improvements. Phase 1 included improvements to the east stands, and Phase 2 included improvements to the west stands. Portions of Phases 1 and 2 have been completed with Blueprint economic development funding allocated by the IA Board in 2020.” 

The university has invested $18 million in its renovation project, which commenced in 2021. An additional $8 million has been contributed from the university’s own funds towards the initiative. While Phase 1 and Phase 2, enhancements to both the east and west stands were completed, Phase 3 was not approved.

In Robinson’s request, he specified that, “The $10,000,000 investment by Blueprint and the $8,000,000 that we have invested in Bragg Memorial Stadium and its newly named Ken Riley Field have definitely revitalized this iconic venue which contributes greatly to the culture of the ‘south side’ and has economic impacts throughout Leon County. However, there are some remaining challenges in the facility. Specifically, we are in need of an additional $15,000,000 from Blueprint’s infrastructure funds to enhance some of the health and safety aspects of this community asset. Therefore, I am requesting your consideration of a meeting with Blueprint staff to explore options for Florida A&M University to be granted this request.” 


In a notable 11-1 decision, the board opted to explore alternative avenues for funding the Bragg renovations, eschewing the use of Blueprint money in favor of seeking support from the county’s Office of Economic Vitality. Leon County Commissioner David O’Keefe was the sole dissenting voice in this decision.

The decision sparked vigorous discussions among board members, with some expressing reservations about allocating sales tax dollars for collegiate sports projects. Conversely, others highlighted FAMU’s deep historical roots and its profound impact on the community, advocating for finding alternative funding solutions.

The redirection of funds towards Bragg Memorial Stadium’s renovations is set to facilitate the completion of crucial infrastructure projects, including the construction of new bathrooms, concession stands, lighting upgrades and an elevator installation.

The Blueprint board engaged in a spirited debate regarding a proposal put forth by Tallahassee City Commissioner Jacqueline Jack Porter. The proposal aimed to utilize infrastructure funds for the acquisition of land and the development of mixed-income affordable rental housing. Despite facing mixed reactions from board members and an hour-long discussion, the proposal passed. This decision paves the way for public hearings on the concept in future meetings.

The Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency’s next meeting is scheduled for May 16. 

For the latest updates on upcoming meetings and university-related news, visit the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency’s official website.