TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida State University is using $20 million from local tax dollars for stadium safety upgrades.
The stadium has stood on FSU’s campus since 1950. After decades of growth, the wear and tear has started to show. The upgrades being done follow a controversial vote to get the ball rolling.
Doak Campbell Stadium first opened in 1950. The stands grew from a capacity of 15,000 fans to nearly 80,000 today.
“Many of the structural things had not been touched in over 70 years, so way past time to do that,” explained Dave Irvin. He is Associate Vice President of Facilities for FSU. “Well we want to increase safety. We’re going to be improving the lighting so it’s a much brighter, safer space.”
Enhanced safety features are how he says the $20 million in tax money from the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency will drive this project forward.
The vote to approve that money happened in February but not without controversy. Some community leaders and organizations called for the money to be spent on addressing other issues impacting families.
Ultimately, Mayor John Dailey along with Leon County commissioners Jimbo Jackson, Bill Proctor, Carolyn Cummings and Nick Maddox, along with city of Tallahassee commissioners Dianne Williams-Cox and Curtis Richardson voted for the project. Leon County commissioners Brian Welch, Rick Minor and Kristin Dozier along with city of Tallahassee commissioners Jeremy Matlow and “Jack” Porter voted against.
“I know there was a lot of discussion,” Irvin added. “I’ll leave that to the politicians as to where to put the money. What I can say is this is a great investment. We did the structural work right away. We knew that was the most critical. That was done prior to the season starting.”
Part of the project involves inspecting structural columns under the stadium to make sure they’re strong enough to last for decades to come.
Next comes lighting upgrades from older bulbs to brighter, more energy-efficient LED technology. Those lights will illuminate the way for new events beyond football games here.
“All of the sort of fixing the infrastructure with the Blueprint money is going to help us to do that,” explained FSU President Richard McCullough. “Not luxury seating as has been incorrectly reported.”
President McCullough said that investment in infrastructure will reach beyond the walls of this building.
“What we’re hoping for in the future is to do more in Doak Campbell. Have major concerts and activities in the stadium. We need to do a little bit of work to accommodate that,” McCullough said.
McCullough told ABC 27 more than 60 percent of Seminole football fans travel more 300 miles to see a home game.
“Those are 60 percent of the people who are not here on the weekend. They’re booking hotels. They’re eating in restaurants. They’re spending money in Tallahassee.”
“We certainly appreciate that there was funding available,” Irvin added. “It’s going to make an amazing difference for the safety of this place.”
If all goes according to plan, it will be a difference in the Tallahassee economy for decades to come.
“We want to be part of the community. We’ve always wanted to do that,” Irvin concluded.
Irvin also said they hired a local architect, Gilchrist Ross Crowe, and local contractor, Ram Construction, do the infrastructure work. Irvin added some of the lighting and accessibility upgrades will be done starting in December and be finished in the spring.