Recruiting is critical to the success of a college football program. Although having a great coach, flashy uniforms and nice weather can all be major factors in helping a program nab top high school players, the fact remains: if your facilities aren't up to par, young athletes won't want to play for you. That's why universities are putting millions of dollars into renovating their football venues, to ensure that their programs don't get left behind.
The Most Expensive College Football Stadium Renovations
Here are the 13 most expensive college football stadium renovations.
Texas A&M's Kyle Field
Renovation Cost: $450 million
Kyle Field, with its patented 12th Man student section, is already considered one of the loudest stadiums in college football, if not all of sports. But it's about to get even louder. A major part of the reconstruction of The House That Johnny Manziel Built will be increased seating capacity, going from 80,600 to 102,512, thus making the Aggies' football sanctuary the largest in the SEC.
Overhangs will be added on both sides of the stadium, along with new club seating from end zone to end zone. But the main feature will be the higher noise level, to be achieved by lowering the field level. Don't bring a date to an Aggies game anytime soon; you won't hear anything he/she says. Construction began in 2013 and will be finished in time for the 2015 season.
University of Oklahoma's Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium
Renovation Cost: $370 million
$370 million is a lot of cake, as the kids say, but Oklahoma's shrine to football is getting a full-on facelift. The open south end zone will be closed off, connecting to both the east- and west-facing stands. That same end zone area will get a 46,000-square-foot "fan zone," where OU fans can presumably hang out and yell "Boomer Sooner" with each other as much as they want. You can never have enough restrooms, so more are being installed, and new escalators will streamline foot traffic throughout. New workout facilities for the players are in the works as well, including a 30,852-square-foot "speed enhancement center." A brand new, 8,750-square-foot video board, called SoonerVision, will top things off. Construction is set to begin after the 2015 season.
University of California-Berkeley's Memorial Stadium
Renovation Cost: $321 million
Talk about a complete overhaul. Everything except the outer wall and the eastern seating bowl were totally rebuilt, with new infrastructure designed to withstand those California earthquakes. New bathrooms and concession stands were added, wooden bleachers were switched to aluminum, and 90 parking spaces for bikes were installed—for fans inclined to go green. Construction was completed in 2012.
University of Washington's Husky Stadium
Renovation Cost: $250 million
Completed in 2013, Husky Stadium was transformed from a somewhat pedestrian facility to a Division I football gem. The track that used to surround the field was eliminated, luxury suites were added, and the entire lower bowl was blown up and rebuilt. A "football operations support building" was created, housing new weight rooms, locker rooms, team meeting rooms and a player's lounge. Seating was added to the east end zone, which previously featured a scoreboard and nothing else.
University of Michigan's Michigan Stadium
Renovation Cost: $226 million
The "Big House" got even bigger in 2010. With a seating capacity of 109,901, Michigan Stadium is currently the largest stadium in the United States. Along with increased capacity, the renovation featured new luxury and club seating, wider aisles for fans who enjoy hot dogs and nachos just a little too much, and a 30 percent increase in noise level. See Michigan Stadium lit up for its first-ever night game.
Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium
Renovation Cost: $210 million
Although the planned renovation of Sun Devil Stadium will actually decrease its seating capacity (from 71,000 to 60,000) to increase leg room (tall people rejoice!), another major change might make up for it. A "video ribbon" will project video and images onto the stadium's exterior for those who can't make it inside, essentially turning Sun Devil Stadium into a giant video screen. No word on whether Raising Arizona will be streamed during the pre-season.
University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium
Renovation Cost: $200 million
Beginning in 2004, Neyland Stadium renovations were broken down into five phases, of which three are now complete. Current upgrades have included increasing the seating capacity to its current count of 102,455, second largest in the SEC. Over the past decade, upgrades have included the installation of LED signage, the addition of a brick facade to the exterior of the stadium and elevators replacing scissor ramps that lead up to the west deck. Phase III, the largest of the five, was completed in 2010.
Ohio State University's Ohio Stadium
Renovation Cost: $194 million
From 1999 to 2001, the place Buckeye fans affectionately refer to as "The Shoe" underwent a renovation that turned the once-portable stands in the south end zone into permanent seating and included upgrades to the infrastructure all around. All that's left is to build a statue of this guy.
University of Texas's Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium
Renovation Cost: $179 million
Starting in 2006, the expansion of UT's football stadium came with the works: a giant scoreboard (55 feet high by 134 feet wide); way more seating (from 80,000 to its current 100,119); an awesome new player locker room, complete with a gaming lounge and nutrition bar; and a sports medicine and training department underneath the north end zone, which features, of all things, a virtual golf simulator.
Rutgers University's HighPoint Solutions Stadium
Renovation Cost: $102 million
A bill for $102 million provided Rutgers with brand new video boards, sound systems and an increased capacity to 52,454. A football recruiting lounge was built to entice wide-eyed high schoolers to don the Rutgers scarlet, and a totally new entrance off a main road near campus was erected so people can, you know, see the stadium as they drive by.
Penn State University's Beaver Stadium
Renovation Cost: $93 million
12,000 new seats were added to Penn State's now massive Beaver Stadium between 1999 and 2001, capping the field's seating capacity at 106,537. It now stands at a whopping 108,282. Included within that total were 60 new private suites for the high rollers, as well as 4,000 club seats. Other upgrades of note were a brand new locker room and media room.
University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium
Renovation Cost: $86.8 million
Nothing out of the ordinary here. The addition of more luxury seating and a nicer press box highlight the subtle changes the University of Iowa made in 2004. Subtle, yet nice. Sums up the entire state of Iowa.
University of Missouri's Faurot Field
Renovation Cost: $72 million
The iconic "Rock M," which sits on a hill behind Faurot Field's north end zone, was moved closer to the field in 2013 to allow for more space in the concourse behind it. 4,000 additional seats, including a handful of "premium seats," make up another level of seating added to the east side of the stadium, upping the field's capacity to 75,000. Construction is scheduled to be done by 2015. When you make the move to the SEC, you've clearly got to step it up to compete with the big boys.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock