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Sports

As debate about Roos Field continues, other facilities receive upgrades

In this photo taken, Thursday, June 20, 2013, a construction crew works on the main entrance to Illinois State’s Hancock Stadium in Normal, Illinois. (Steve Smedley / Associated Press)
In this photo taken, Thursday, June 20, 2013, a construction crew works on the main entrance to Illinois State’s Hancock Stadium in Normal, Illinois. (Steve Smedley / Associated Press)

While Eastern Washington considers its options, other FCS schools have moved decisively toward expanding their football facilities with relatively modest expenditures.

At Illinois State in 2011, president Al Bowman pronounced 48-year-old Hancock Stadium an “eyesore” and announced plans for renovation and expansion.

Funding for the $20 million project came mostly from the retirement of student fees that paid for ISU’s basketball arena. Construction began swiftly, adding roughly 7,000 seats to increase capacity to 14,000, while adding a new east-side grandstand with a luxury suites and an outdoor terrace area.

Two years later, in 2013, the new Hancock Stadium opened to rave reviews.

Likewise, New Hampshire needed just two years to go from proposal to fruition for its expansion and modernization of Cowell Stadium.

On Jan. 31, 2014, the school announced plans to build the $25 million athletic complex as part of the campus master plan. That summer, after the University successfully raised $5 million in private donations, the University System of New Hampshire board of trustees approved the project.

Now called Wildcat Stadium, it has a seating capacity of 11,015 – up from 6,500. The new building has four suites, 512 club seats, 864 box seats and a sound system with 14 speakers, compared to one speaker in the old stadium.

The $25 million price tag was met with about $5 million in private donations. The other $20 million was raised by borrowing from cash reserves and repaying the loan from expected revenue increases from the new facility.

The new stadium opened this fall.

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