• The three Football Championship Subdivision schools in Alabama — Alabama A&M, Alabama State and Jacksonville State — have on-campus stadiums that range in capacity from 21,000 to 26,000. The Top 10 FCS football teams in 2018 have an average stadium capacity of 15,371 with eight of the 10 stadiums on campus.

• When UNA was a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, the nine other members had stadiums with an average capacity of 20,495, and eight of the nine are on campus. Stadiums in that average include Tennessee State's home field, which is a 69,143-seat National Football League stadium owned by the Tennessee Titans. UNA's current home stadium, Braly Stadium, which is owned by Florence City Schools, has a capacity of 14,500 and is off campus.

• Considerations for location should include student sentiment, land cost, proximity to campus, safety and the availability of 13 to 15 acres.

• Potential locations include UNA land; the former Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital property that the city of Florence and Lauderdale County own; property in the Sweetwater community owned by a private resident who would consider a long-term lease to UNA; west Florence off Cypress Creek; and Tennessee Valley Authority property.

• The suggested capacity of a new stadium would be 10,000 to 12,000, and the design should include expansion opportunities.

• The estimated cost of a new stadium is $25 million to $30 million.

• Fan experience should remain at the forefront in overall design. Possible amenities include increasing dining options for events and the campus; designating spaces for vendors; communal areas in the plaza for tailgating and televisions; considering the potential for alcohol sales; a fan shop and UNA sports history area; classrooms in the stadium; a lettermen's club; sky boxes with garage doors, common spaces and a patio; concepts reminiscent of minor league baseball parks with a focus on open concepts; and UNA logos and colors.

Potential risks of UNA owning a stadium:

• Legislators need to be reassured that no state funding increase would go toward the stadium project. Likewise, funds would not be diverted from academics for the project.

• If current students agree to a fee to help with construction, that work would continue to impact the cost of attendance for future students.

• UNA could face limitations on its borrowing capacity due to low state funding.

• Since building a new stadium would mean UNA no longer would use Braly Stadium, UNA and Florence City Schools officials need to maintain good communication lines to maintain a strong relationship and avoid any misconceptions.

• There is the potential perception from the community that Florence does not need another football stadium. 

Potential risks if UNA remains at Braly Stadium:

• With no ownership interest, UNA is not building equity in the stadium, making it difficult to justify investing funds toward modernizing it.

• UNA contributes 50 percent of the operational expenses of Braly Stadium.

• The lack of amenities could harm future attendance.

• Recruiting is adversely affected.

• There is no consistent UNA brand at Braly Stadium.

Missed opportunities if a new stadium is not developed:

• Along with UNA football and soccer, a new stadium would provide a venue for events such as concerts and band competitions, which generates revenue and brings people to campus, and that could help in enrollment. Additional events include UNA Preview Day, spring commencement and high school playoff games in football and soccer.

• A stadium could generate money through concessions, retail sales, premium seating, naming rights and sky boxes.

• A stadium would enhance campus life and recruitment.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski


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