Bottom lines in the sky 

The University of Montana is considering a plan to renovate the private suites at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. According to UM Athletic Director Jim O’Day, the department received a $50,000 private donation to develop a master plan for the stadium and a Park City, Utah, architectural firm has submitted initial designs. However, O’Day is quick to point out that the plan is in the early planning stages.

“In some ways it’s probably a dream. It may not be depending on how the money falls in place,” O’Day said Tuesday.

But Bob Duringer, UM’s vice president of administration and finance, says he has blueprints for the project in his office.

“It’s a concept at this point,” says Duringer.

The concept is to demolish the press box and suites on the west side of the stadium and replace them with a three-level structure that would include improved suites, covered club seating and an up-to-date press box.

Duringer and O’Day say they are in the process of creating a business plan and gauging private interest in the project, which would be paid for by leases on the suites and club seats. O’Day says there are already about 35 groups and individuals on a waiting list for the suites.

The existing 48 suites, or “luxury boxes,” were built in 1986 and leased, on average, for 20 years, starting at $30,000 per year.

“That’s a hell of a deal,” says Duringer. He says the renovations could generate more revenue for the department by adding seats and by bringing the costs of the suites up to market value. According to O’Day, Montana State University charges around $10,000 per year for similar boxes.

Added revenue, he says, is the bottom line.

“The current suites haven’t been a revenue source since they were built in 1986,” says O’Day. “If we can’t put together a plan that generates revenue for intercollegiate athletics then we won’t do it.”

O’Day said Turner Construction, one of the world’s largest construction companies, is preparing an estimate of the cost of the project, which should be available in two weeks.

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