Brogan pledges FAU stadium will be built by 2010

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Monday, September 22, 2008

BOCA RATON Florida Atlantic University President Frank Brogan pledged Monday that a long-sought football stadium will open on time in 2010, with construction beginning before spring.

The announcement, made during Brogan's sixth state of the university speech, dispels concerns that the crumbling economy would push stadium plans back at least one year.

Although Brogan acknowledged that uncertainty in the stock market has made it difficult to negotiate a $20 million deal for stadium naming rights, he said he's confident current fund-raising efforts coupled with negotiations with a private company to build residence halls will keep the 30,000-seat stadium plan on schedule.

"We're confident we'll be there for 2010," Brogan said, after his address. "We want to get it on campus."

Brogan's speech followed last week's unanimous trustee vote to extend his contract by six years and award him a 10 percent raise.

He reviewed several accomplishments made during the past year, including the Republican primary debate held at FAU in January and a recent 30-year deal to lease the school's unused broadband spectrum for $173 million.

Others included:

  • FAU reached its highest enrollment ever this fall, with 27,000 students.
  • FAU received about $92 million in sponsored research last year.
  • The first phase of an $11 million fitness center will open on the Boca Raton campus in January.

    Many, however, likely found the stadium information the most compelling considering September was the original fund-raising deadline given to make a 2010 opening date possible.

    FAU's board of trustees gave Brogan permission to move forward with the proposed $62 million stadium last fall with the understanding that no state money would be used for its construction.

    At the time, school officials estimated they would need about $7 million in donations before they sought a finance deal to fund stadium construction with bonds.

    Now, Brogan said the school needs between $12 million and $14 million before it goes to the bond market.

    About $4 million in pledges, commitments and cash has been collected already.

    It is hoped the remainder will come from the proposed development deal to build new residence halls for about 2,500 students. Under the plan, the developer would pay FAU a cash sum in advance and collect proceeds from the residence halls after construction.

    Brogan said he wants to present a finance plan to trustees within the next month.

    "You can't go much past fall because then you start to get into the problem with just the physical construction of the stadium," Brogan said. "According to all of the experts, we're still OK as far as the timing of this thing is concerned."