Release Date: May 21, 1998
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Construction of a 14,500-seat expansion of the University at Buffalo Stadium is scheduled to begin next April and be completed four months later for the university's first home football game at the Division I-A level in the Mid-American Conference.
Plans for the expansion, unveiled on May 13 at a press conference in the stadium, call for the seats to be added in the stadium's end-zones, with 9,600 seats being added in one curved section in the south end-zone near Millersport Highway and 4,900 being added in two sections-separated by the scoreboard-in the north end-zone.
The design "will give the stadium a feeling of enclosure" and maximize sight lines for fans in the new seats, said Joseph Casseta, architect and chief designer on the project for Foit-Albert Associates Architects and a captain of the 1988 UB Bulls football team.
The expansion in the south end-zone will increase fan comfort-as well as players' control of the football-by helping to block southwesterly winds.
It also will increase UB's public visibility by providing the North Campus with its first building facade on a campus perimeter where the university's name and logo will be displayed prominently.
The $2.5 million project, announced in January, is part of UB's capital program and has been submitted to the State University of New York Construction Fund.
Construction of the new seats, as well as the sale of 17,000 seats per game for the Bulls' 1998 home games, are the remaining two requirements for UB's move to the Division I-A level for football in the MAC for the 1999 season.
Bob Arkeilpane, associate athletic director, reported at the press conference that 12,000 season tickets have been sold to date and it's anticipated that the remaining 5,000 will be sold prior to the Bulls' home opener on Sept. 12 against Lock Haven University.
"The response we have gotten has been tremendous, particularly from our alumni and many Western New York corporations who have made clear to us their desire to help bring major college football to the area," Arkeilpane added.
"We would like to stress, however, that we still have a long way to go and we hope that support from our campus and the greater community will continue to grow as we get closer to realizing a goal that has been over a decade in the making."
The progress on the stadium expansion and sale of season tickets was hailed by President William R. Greiner and Jerry Ippoliti, a former assistant UB football coach in the 1960s who now is commissioner of the Mid-American Conference.
"The MAC is going to be a good place for UB and we're going to be terrific for the MAC," Greiner noted. With UB coming on board, he added, the MAC acquires not only a school with a strong academic character, but access to the nation's fourth-largest television market.
"It is appropriate for our region's university to take its place among our national peers in athletics as we do in research, teaching and public service," Greiner said. "Completing the move from Division III to Division I-A in only eight years is a measure of our commitment to national standing in all of our endeavors."
Ippoliti praised the progress on the stadium expansion and ticket sales as "indicative" of UB's commitment to the MAC.
UB, he added, "will bring a lot to the league," which traditionally has been viewed as an Ohio conference. "We need to expand our perimeters" and UB, he said, will provide the MAC "with a major media market and a national identity that we've never had before."
Craig Cirbus, head football coach, noted that the move to the MAC could not have occurred without "the commitment from the president's office, to the conference, to everybody associated with athletics on the campus, right through to the student body and the entire University at Buffalo community."
UB football competition at the Division I-A level will not be limited to teams in the MAC. The university announced earlier this year that it has inked a three-year series starting in 1999 with Atlantic Coast Conference power Virginia, a three-year series with Rutgers starting in 2000 and a four-year deal with Syracuse University beginning in 2001.