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FAMU stadium upgrades completed in time for homecoming game

Blueprint money paid for safety, structural upgrades
Posted at 6:00 PM, Oct 27, 2022

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Standing tall for 65 years, Florida A&M University’s Bragg Memorial Stadium has a new look just in time for the 2022 homecoming game.

“We just want to have a facility that reflects the vision of this university, and we’re excited about the upgrades,” said head football coach, Willie Simmons. He talked about the $10 million project that just wrapped up at the stadium. That money paid for safety and structural upgrades.

“It sends chills up your spine to run out of the tunnel and see screaming fans dressed in orange and green cheering on the football team,” Simmons added. He said he is looking forward to Saturday’s homecoming game against The Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions.

“We can’t do what we do without our fans,” Simmons said. “We want to create a great gameday environment.”

“It was a tough project to be done during the pandemic. Kudos to both the construction teams,” said Craig Talton, director of Facilities Planning and Construction for FAMU. Talton has been with FAMU for 12 years. For the last two of those years, he has overseen the $10 million project to bring the stadium’s stands and supports up to modern standards. It started in the middle of the pandemic.

“My kids come here,” Talton added. “My family comes here. I want to make sure they’re safe and a safe environment for FAMU alumni and students to come and enjoy the FAMU experience.”

Teams had to take out the old steel seating and steel pans on top due to rust. They also had to replace all the cross braces under the stands. They then sandblasted and recoated all the vertical columns supporting the structure. The Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency allocated that ten million in 2020.

After that vote, FAMU President, Dr. Larry Robinson said, “it was exciting, jubilation!” He added that money can go a long way toward recruiting future students. It’s also expected to lead to future economic investment in the Tallahassee area.

Areport from Blueprint Documents showed that in a typical year, a FAMU football season brings in more than $7.3 million in direct spending from fans visiting from areas outside of Leon County. Economic analysis included in that report found that spending supports 132 jobs, $3.6 million in wages, and nearly $1.4 million in federal, state, county, and city taxes. Those numbers were pre-pandemic and pre-renovation. It’s an economic impact Interim Athletic Director, Michael Smith, says he’s proud to play a part in, “to keep this side of town vibrant and make it a destination for us and others to come and visit and have a good time.”

It’s that good time that Simmons said will drive this team forward. “We feel we have the best fanbase in America, and now we’re able to give them a venue that they’re proud to call home.”

FAMU leaders added that once they can secure the money, they plan on upgrading the restrooms around the stadium. This is just one of the big Blueprint projects involving our local colleges. In September, we took you inside the new facilities at Tallahassee Community College. They’re using $1 million for Blueprint to renovate baseball, softball and basketball infrastructure. We also took you inside Florida State University’s Doak Campbell Stadium where they used $20 million from Blueprint for structural and safety upgrades similar to FAMU.