DESTIN, Florida — Auburn’s gestating renovation plans for Jordan-Hare Stadium are still up in the air.
The project, which “could definitely be higher” than $145 million, is in the middle of a year-long feasibility study, which should end this fall, Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said. Simply put, Auburn will know in a few months if it will move forward with its plans to renovate the north end zone.
“We’ll know by the end of this fall where we are, and if that happens and it’s positive and we’re able to raise the money we need to raise to move forward with the project, then we could possibly start (construction) at the end of the ’17 season,” Jacobs said at the SEC’s annual spring meetings.
The project was first introduced in early 2015 and has hit several speed bumps along the way. Jacobs initially set a tentative start date of December 2015, but discussions hit a snag during the design face in the summer of 2015. Designs were leaked to AuburnSports.com during that time, though those plans were taken off the table as the administration went back to the drawing board in the fall.
The massive renovations would include destruction of the north end zone and the erection of a new grandstand, which would include multiple levels, premium seating, club-level seating on two levels, a terrace, bench seating at field level, a wider concourse and the relocation of the home locker room and recruiting lounge from the south end zone to the north end zone.
Auburn released renderings of the potential renovation to fans in December. In an effort to seek feedback for the renovation, the athletics department also sent a survey to 5,000 ticket buyers and asked the public to email the department with their thoughts.
“This survey is critical because it will help us determine the level of interest and support for a potential renovation to Jordan-Hare Stadium,” Jacobs said in a statement at the time. “The level of interest and support in a major stadium renovation must be substantial for it to be feasible.”
The renewed plans included a large video board above the north end zone as well, but that plan changed again in February as the large video board was replaced with two smaller scoreboards in the design. The end zone design mirrors the recently-constructed expansion of Davis Wade Stadium at Mississippi State, which includes loge seating and more premium seating options. Auburn has spent at least $100,000 devising the plans.
“The great thing about what we’ve done is whenever we’re ready to start, we can pull it off the shelf and move with it,” Jacobs said. “Whatever time that is.”
Jacobs also admitted for the first time, however, that the plans could also be placed on the back burner for an indefinite period. Discussion about the project has been non-existent at recent Auburn Board of Trustees meetings and the project is not on the docket for the next quarterly meeting, a university spokesman said.
“Auburn Athletics is still in the due diligence phase,” the spokesman told SEC Country last week. “Nothing else has changed.”
Jacobs has not publicly announced a price for the project, either. He said Wednesday Auburn has not “finalized the number yet because of the seating capacity, but we’re working on that.” Jacobs previously said Auburn is not expected to drastically increase its current seating capacity (87,451) at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“The key to it is we’re not trying to fix anything,” Jacobs said. “We could perfectly live with our north end zone the way it is. We’re just trying to create different price points to create a better game day experience for our customers, our fans in the north end zone. And we’re also trying to produce revenue to support these 21 sports. All that has to come together for us to move forward. It has to be a good business decision.”