InfoCision, good decision

“A knock-out. That’s what Ted Curtis, the University of Akron’s VP of capital planning and facility management, called the design of UA ‘ s new, on campus football stadium. The designs for the new stadium, named InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, for the donations from each company that totaled $30 million, were unveiled Aug.”

A knock-out.

That’s what Ted Curtis, the University of Akron’s VP of capital planning and facility management, called the design of UA ‘ s new, on campus football stadium.

The designs for the new stadium, named InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, for the donations from each company that totaled $30 million, were unveiled Aug. 1 to a large gathering of fans, alumni, university coaches, cheerleaders, band and media in the Student Union Ballroom. The stadium will be built adjacent to Lee Jackson Field and the Louis and Freda Stiles Athletic Field house.

InfoCision stadium is a striking complex – designed by Kansas City based HNTB Architecture Inc. – that will replace the crumbling, 65-year-old Rubber Bowl in 2009. It will cost UA $55 million to construct.

The stadium will seat 30,000, including 486 club seats and 15 private suites. It will also have 172 open-air loge seats, which will make InfoCision Stadium the only collegiate football venue in Ohio to offer loge seating. The stadium will also include a bridge from the field house, which is accessible through the Rec Center.

The stadium’s exterior will be constructed using red-brown brick, stone and glass.

When we embarked upon our design development process we had one goal in mind – that was to build the nicest stadium in the country, director of athletics Mack Rhoades said. I didn’t say largest, I said nicest.

When you talk about architecture and design, when you talk about amenities, when you talk about functionality and most importantly, service to our community, we want to build the nicest stadium in the country.

The university will start site clearance in October. This mostly entails rental property, as well as a handful of busineses, and it will take about $1.4 million to raze and haul the materials away, according to Curtis. UA expects full-scale construction to start in December and will take 18-24 months to complete. The University hired the Akron based Welty Building Company and Indianapolis based Hunt Construction Group to oversee construction.

University resident Luis Proenza said there has been talks about building a new, on-campus stadium since he joined the university in 1999 and probably before that.

UA officials said the Rubber Bowl was costing a lot of money in upkeep – between $300,000 and $500,000 annually since 1970 according to Curtis. The cost to make the Rubber Bowl accessible by American Disability Act guidlines and make other upgrades would cost the university in excess of $66 million.

We also recognized, although as much as people have affection for the Rubber Bowl as we do, Proenza said, it’s never been at the right place and was nearing the natural end of its lifetime.

The Rubber Bowl’s future is in limbo after the 2008 football season. Curtis said they have been talking with the city about how to best utilize the venue, but have not officially put it up for sale.

Alcohol sales?

Other options are still being discussed at this point, including the sale of alcohol at the new stadium. The Rubber Bowl prohibits the sale of alcohol and Curtis said during a student focus, the prohibition of alcohol was a primary reason why more students don’t attend football games.

They said they wouldn’t drink and drive, Curtis said, but they would drink and walk.

The decision to sell alcohol will have to be approved through a vote from the board of trustees, but Curtis said if the decision were up to him he would do it tomorrow.

It’s part of the atmosphere, he said.

Dorms added

The university also approved the construction of residence housing adjacent to the football field that will house at least 500 students, possibly expandable to 860. Proenza said there are plans to explore the financing and cost of the residence hall and that it would be a couple of months until they had the design development completed.

Zips impact

The addition of a new football venue will likely have a positive financial impact on the athletic department. Rhodes said the new stadium will allow UA to gain more national television exposure, simply because the Rubber Bowl provides a plethora of obstacles if a station were to try and televise a game.

It’s been very difficult to get ESPN national to televise a game out of the Rubber Bowl because of the cost that needs to go in it – removing light poles, etc, Rhoades said. This year our Ohio U game will be an ESPN2 broadcast, but there is an investment on our behalf, as well as the conference’s, to make that happen.

InfoCision Stadium will also help the athletic department in terms of scheduling quality non-conference opponents to play games in Akron. This year, the Zips play five home games and seven away games when the majority of programs play a balanced schedule of six home and away games.

The new stadium has already assisted in that endeavor. The Zips have scheduled Kentucky, a Southeastern Conference opponent, for the stadium’s first game on Sept. 12, 2009. Rhoades said they are also working on luring a Big Ten opponent for the same year.

In terms of scheduling, it gives us a great opportunity to work on our schedule, he said. Which is hugely important when you talk about trying to build a football program. Scheduling is certainly a key.

Businesses affected

One slight bump in the road for UA is the remaining 28 parcels of land they have yet to acquire on the 12-acre lot. Curtis said the remaining landowners are not listening up and UA will have to go through eminent domain procedures in order to acquire the land. Curtis also said the university will end up paying $3.6 million for the land it did not already own on the lot and should have all the properties by the end of the year.

One owner who isn’t pleased about his businesses being bought out is Manuel Nemer, who owns Manny’s Pub, Aroma Coffee and Chopstix on East Exchange Street.

Nemer, 55 and an Akron resident for 38 years, has owned Manny’s since 1984 and the other two businesses since 1985.

I don’t like it. I’m not going to lie and say I was excited, Nemer said. Everything I have, I got out of hard work and (a lot of) time.

Nemer said he has always been loyal to the university and expected the same treatment in return. Nemer said he planned to pass his businesses on to his son, Ray.

It’s not about the money, Nemer said. I don’t care about the money. I care about my pride and legacy. This is not going to be handed over to the university. I don’t know why they want to take a man’s livelihood.

” #1.1361953:1394905465.jpg:InfoCision Stadium Summa Field West Stands.jpg:The $55 million stadium will seat 30,000. This is the artist’s rendering of the view from the southwest on Exchange and Union streets.:UA PRESS PHOTO”
“#1.1361430:415106158.png:stadium entrance.png:A view of the main entrance to InfoCision Stadium from Union and E. Exchange streets.:UA PRESS PHOTO”