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Though Big East teams don’t play in the sprawling palaces that can be found in places like the Southeastern Conference, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Fewer seats mean fewer tickets, and buzz can build when a program gets hot. Cincinnati’s startling run under former coach Brian Kelly turned the Bearcats into more than a mere afterthought in a city dominated by the NFL’s Bengals and baseball’s Reds.

Interest has grown so high the Bearcats will play Oklahoma in Paul Brown Stadium on Sept. 25, which has nearly double the capacity of 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium.

“They’ve all been very smart in terms of the size of their stadiums,” said Big East associate commissioner of football Nick Carparelli. “I think their stadiums have been built to a size where there’s a demand and a great atmosphere but also built to be expanded as their programs grow.”

It worked at Rutgers, which expanded to 52,454 seats after Schiano led the longtime conference doormat to respectability. The Scarlet Knights averaged over 49,000 fans while going 9-4 last year, nearly 20,000 more than in 2004 when they won just four games.

Schiano said the renovation not only helps recruiting, but gives the program a heft. When he took the job a decade ago, the stadium had “that sleepy little college look.”

Not anymore. The stadium renovation included adding 1,000 club level seats, a massive scoreboard and a 7,656-square-foot football recruiting lounge and welcome center.

“Now it feels like a real place,” he said.

It’s exactly what Jurich is hoping for at Louisville. Though the original expansion called for capacity to rise from 42,000 to around 60,000, that number was modestly trimmed over budget concerns.

Jurich didn’t skimp, however, on amenities. He fell in love with the idea of a terrace connecting the east and west sides of the stadium after visiting Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, and was adamant that chairback seats be used in the upper deck, a rarity in college football.

Though attendance fell sharply in the last three years at the program slipped, Jurich didn’t second-guess himself.

“I never looked back once,” he said. “I didn’t build it for this year or next year, I built it for the next 50 years.”

Despite three straight non-winning seasons under Steve Kragthorpe, the fan base has been revitalized by Strong’s hiring. The school plans to sell around 44,000 season tickets, and Jurich’s optimism that Louisville’s best days are in front of it is shared by the conference as a whole.

“We can compete with anybody in the country,” Carparelli said. “I’m not into saying we’re better than this conference or that conference, but the goal is for people to say the Big East belongs and they can compete with the best. I think they see it on the football field and in terms of our facilities.”