Planning for the University of South Alabama’s first on-campus stadium is starting to take shape, even if the funding is lagging a bit behind.
On Thursday, the executive committee of the University of South Alabama Board of Trustees approved a resolution that will allow President Tony Waldrop to begin soliciting bids for the second phase of the stadium’s construction.
Even with the approval, Waldrop told committee members that if the university didn’t have the funding in place to pay for the construction the bids would simply not be opened.
“This is a very important day,” Waldrop told reporters after the meeting. “The end goal is to have a stadium on campus. If we want to meet the 2020 goal we will have to start soliciting bids now. If we find funding it would still go back to the trustees for approval.”
Despite the added pressure of a deadline to open bids, Waldrop said the university has “plenty of time” left to fundraise. He reiterated that tuition would not be used to pay for the stadium.
The second phase of construction would include the shell of the press tower, the shell of the operations building and the placement of concrete that will support seating in the lower bowl.
Athletics Director Joel Erdmann told reporters about 50 percent of USA’s stadium project would be completed with the second phase.
Last month, USA kicked off a fundraising campaign for the stadium called “Get on Campus.” Since Aug. 31, the campaign has raised $120,000 from 106 donors. Erdmann said the school is happy with the response from donors, both big and small.
“We had a great reaction from donors,” he said. “We’ve had a great response from the community and from those people who want to help support it.”
Erdmann said the total number of donors on the web page is a bit misleading, as there are a number of pledges waiting on final signatures.
Plans to fund the stadium took a hit when the Mobile City Council voted down a letter of intent that would’ve given USA a total of $10 million in funding for the stadium over 20 years. For months, the council debated the merits of contributing to a new stadium when it had its own 70-year-old stadium, Ladd Peebles, in midtown.
A similar $10 million request to the Mobile County Commission also failed to materialize.