Austin Peay State University received approval Monday, Aug. 20 from the Tennessee Building Commission to build a new $16 million football stadium that will replace the iconic Governors Stadium on the main campus.
The new stadium is scheduled to be ready for the football season in 2014, University officials said.
“The new football stadium is a great step forward both for our football program and for the University in general,” APSU President Tim Hall said. “It will be a tremendous asset for recruiting new players. And it will also enhance the University's ability to attract students generally and to create the kind of collegiate environment which will help them succeed, both in the classroom and out of it.”
For nearly seven decades, Governors Stadium has served as the home of the APSU football team. It also is home to the Lady Governors track and field program.
Governors athletics received a boost in 1946, when the city of Clarksville opened its new Municipal Stadium at the edge of the former Austin Peay State College. The stadium became the home field for local schools and APSC for football games and track events.
The Municipal Stadium – later renamed Governors Stadium after APSU took over the facility in 1993 – was part of a time when athletics was needed. Austin Peay, like other institutions, sought to define itself for the postwar era. Athletics helped to usher in a new era for the college and Clarksville, and the stadium was the element needed.
“We are excited about the renovation of our stadium,” APSU Athletics Director Dave Loos said. “This is much needed. The facility you play is critical to recruiting top athletes. This is another piece of the puzzle in our efforts to strengthen our football program.”
Governors football coach Rick Christophel said having a new stadium will be a recruitment boost.
“It’s an exciting time,” Christophel said. “It gives us a chance to show people we have a commitment to this program, both administratively and athletically. It gives us a chance to not only recruit the best players in the Tennessee but in the southeast region as well.”
Mitch Robinson, vice president of finance and administration, said funding for the new stadium will include $8 million in institutional funds and existing debt service fees, $5.5 million in debt financing through Tennessee school bonds that will be repaid through skybox rentals and $2.5 million in private contributions.
The state Building Commission selected Rufus Johnson and Associates as the architect for the project. The Johnson firm will be assisted by Atlanta, Ga.-based Heery International Inc. as architectural consultants. Heery has designed numerous outdoor athletic facilities throughout the country.
Robinson said design work will begin soon. The new stadium will have more seating than the current structure, he said.
Demolition of the west side of the stadium – the home side near the Foy Fitness and Recreation Center – will begin after football season ends in 2013. That side will be rebuilt, with the addition of skyboxes to be the most notable feature. The east side, or the visiting section, will have minimal renovations.
The football field also will be replaced, and the track will be repaired as needed. Restrooms will be replaced, as well as locker rooms, and a training room will be added.
Additional work, such as construction of offices, will be part of Phase II.
For more information, visit http://www.apsu.edu/stadium. - Dr. Melony Shemberger