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$95M expansion planned for Byrd

- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2005

A $95million expansion to 55-year-old Byrd Stadium that includes 10,000 seats, luxury boxes and naming rights to the field is among four planned sports projects being readied by Maryland officials.

Terrapins athletic director Debbie Yow yesterday confirmed that proposals for Byrd's expansion, along with a possible relocation of the baseball stadium and upgrades to the soccer and lacrosse field and team house, will be submitted to university officials in coming months. The latter three projects could cost $25million. Because athletic projects are privately funded, university approval is probable. Byrd's expansion could be completed by 2008.

Gaining $15million for naming rights for the football stadium's field is the linchpin toward expanding the 51,500-seat venue. Though the stadium's name for former university coach and president H.C. "Curly" Byrd would remain, finding an alumnus or corporation to fund the field's name follows a national trend. The name is subject to university approval.

"There can't be an expansion of Byrd until we sell naming rights for the field," Yow said. "With the right corporation, it would work. I don't think [approval] is going to be an issue because [objections are] normally about state funding. This is privately funded. We're not going to usurp someone who needs an academic building."

After two years of planning, Maryland is expected to unveil the new stadium plans in coming months. Depending on funding, the expansion could be downsized to $75 million. Tyser Tower would be replaced by 10,000 seats to offset the upper deck on the opposing side. The end zone will remain open should the stadium need further expansion. Coach Ralph Friedgen's goal is 80,000 seats.

After selling out every game last season, the Terps now expect to do it again without individual game ticket sales. With an attractive home schedule of West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia, plus Clemson and ACC newcomer Boston College, the Terps may eclipse last year's record of selling nearly 31,000 season tickets.