Thursday, June 19th, 1997

UVa Stadium Expansion Has Tech Playing Catch-up Again

I've known for a while that UVa had plans to add 20,000 seats to Scott Stadium as part of a $45-$50 million dollar expansion project, but to actually see those plans drawn up as an artist's rendition, and to hear that one guy had donated half the money required ... well, it was all I could do to keep from putting on my chicken suit and running out into the street screaming, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock, the Wahoos have formally unveiled a plan to upgrade Scott Stadium, their smallish football facility, to a 60,000 seat horseshoe. This is going to cost about $50 million, and half of that amount - $25 million - was donated in a single stroke by former UVa lineman and millionaire businessman Carl Smith (net worth: $400 million). UVa will match that with money collected as part of their general $750 million fund drive, which is now two-thirds, or $500 million, to its goal. The full $750 million is not earmarked for athletics, of course - "only" about $100 million is. Look for the 'Hoos to get a new basketball arena as part of this fund-raising drive, as well.

In my piece on recruiting that I did back in February, I wrote that it was difficult for Tech and UVa to keep the Top 5 high school football players in-state, because our facilities couldn't compete with the huge stadiums boasted by schools like Penn State, Michigan, Tennessee, et al. The Cavs already have excellent ancillary facilities, such as their weight room and training facility, but let's face it - that tiny little 40,000 seat stadium screamed "SMALL TIME!" at the top of its orange and blue lungs.

Well, in about four years, the only 1-A football stadium in the state that screams "SMALL TIME!" will be doing it with orange and maroon lungs. $50 million doesn't just buy 20,000 more seats. It buys luxury boxes and a new jumbotron scoreboard as well, I'm sure. In the article in The Roanoke Times about the expansion project, a UVa spokesperson said, "A concrete structure is not what Virginia is about. We're going to take a lot of care about 'the look'."

Meaning, "This thing's going to be really nice."

I don't begrudge the Hoos their windfall. As you've heard me say before, cranking out lawyers and doctors and some of the top MBA's in the country earns you a healthy bottom line when donation time arrives. In addition, a lot of "old money" goes to UVa, and because of that, they can just snap their fingers and raise $25 million in a single stroke, while it takes thousands of Hokies years to donate "just" $10 million to build the Merryman Center.

And I finally cheered myself up in two ways. Number one, I realized that it won't be so darn hard to get tickets to the Tech/UVa clash anymore (they were almost impossible to scalp in 1995).

Number two, I posted a WAV file of Bill Roth calling the 1995 Druck-to-Holmes touchdown over on the Sights and Sounds page. Read the next two news items and then be sure to check out Bill's classic.

"The Gobbler" is Coming on Board Soon

Help is arriving soon for Webmaster Will here at Hokie Central, and you faithful readers, who constantly thirst for yet more Hokie info, will be pleased. I've just been joined by a new partner in crime here at Hokie Central, a lifetime Hokie fan who contacted me and expressed his deep, profound, never-ending desire to contribute to the Hokie Central web site.

"I've read Hokie Central since I was a child," this young man wrote, "and if there's anything I can do to contribute to the best sports site on the Internet, I'd like to help."

I checked over the man's resume, and he certainly had the credentials and contacts, plus a lifelong love of Hokie sports, so I immediately told him, "Sure! Here's 57 projects I haven't had the time to get to! Do them all!"

For reasons of his own (and they're good ones), our new contributor chooses to remain anonymous and will go by the alias "The Gobbler." Some of you may have already seen him chime in once or twice on the message board. I've given The Gobbler a plethora of tasks to attend to that I think you'll like. Here's some of what he'll be doing for Hokie Central:

  • providing weekly football game previews that give you the lowdown on the next opponent (something I wanted to do but never had time to do)
  • updating an ongoing "Hokies in the Pros" feature that tells you what former Hokies are doing in their respective pro sports
  • maintaining a repository of links to articles about the Hokies (several of you have asked for this, and I think it's a great idea)

In addition, to help fill the time until football season starts, I'm going to have The Gobbler do a Big East Preview and a recap of what the preseason rags are saying about the Hokies (just as soon as they all come out).

The Gobbler will be more of an objective fact reporter. Incisive, biting commentary about such subjects as Doug Doughty's soothsaying cat's head and UVa's recruiting methods will still be the sole domain of Webmaster Will (and, of course, those of you with message board passwords).

I'll get The Gobbler a email address as soon as I can, and then you can start pounding him with a never-ending stream of email, too!


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