College leaders also announced a new multimedia rights deal that will bring in more than $300 million over 15 years, and said alcohol will be sold at men’s and women’s basketball games at the Pinnacle Bank Arena starting this season.
The sports department must obtain approval from the university’s board of governors, which is expected to approve the plans. The next board meeting is September 30th.
Nebraska is set to open a $160 million soccer facility next year, and the Big Ten’s $1 billion a year media rights deal announced this summer will bring unprecedented gains to league members.
The announcement came less than two weeks after Nebraska began searching for a new football coach following the sacking of Scott Frost. Athletics director Trev Alberts said discussions about stadium upgrades and a rights agreement had been going on for months and that the timing was a coincidence.
“I’m not naive about perhaps the utility of potential candidates saying, despite some challenges we’re having in terms of gains and losses on the field, there’s a lot of momentum going on at the University of Nebraska,” Alberts said. “If this is an unintended benefit, we will take it.”
The Cornhuskers have played at Memorial Stadium since 1923 and additional improvements have been made over the years, including luxury suites in 1999 and expansion to more than 85,000 seats in 2013.
Alberts said redevelopment of the south end area, concession and concourse areas, as well as improvements in digital infrastructure, are likely. He did not have a cost estimate or schedule for the project.
Alberts said the sports department has received about 22,000 responses to a questionnaire about the amenities fans would like to improve the stadium experience, and that feedback will be used in the decision-making process.
Alberts noted that the soccer team continues to have strong fan support even though it hasn’t had a winning season since 2016. The school owns a 385-game NCAA selling series that began in 1962.
“We stay together in all kinds of weather,” Alberts said, quoting the school fight song. “I think the fans have stuck with us through some bad storms. I think it’s time to do our part.”
The sports division’s multimedia rights agreement with Playfly Sports will go into effect on October 1. The deal guarantees $301 million over 15 years, or about $18.2 million annually. Playfly currently owns the multimedia rights to Southern California, LSU, and Virginia, among other schools.
As part of the package, Alberts said, Playfly will contribute $1 million in naming, imagery, and likeness programs each of the first two years and additional, unspecified amounts in subsequent years.
Alcohol will only be sold at the Pinnacle Bank Arena as part of a two-year pilot program. Nebraska will receive 10% of the net profit, which Alberts said will be about $100,000 this basketball season.
Alberts said there will be no alcohol sales at Memorial Stadium because the facility is not properly equipped for it. There will be no sales at Haymarket Park baseball field at this time due to agreements in place between the university, the City of Lincoln and the Lincoln Saltdogs.