The University of Florida Athletic Director, Scott Stricklin, joined SportScene with Steve Russell Monday to discuss the future renovation plans for The Swamp. Whether you are for it or against it, the home of the Florida Gators football team will look very different in years to come. Stricklin understands that renovating the stadium for a better fan experience while still having it be a great gameday environment will be a main focus.
TRUST THE PROCESS
Stricklin wants it to be clear that there are no specifics on the new stadium’s design, layout, or location. There are many steps that need to be taken before any part of the project takes place. The first objective will be to hire an architect for the project. Stricklin and his administration will narrow it down to a short list of candidates for the remodeling.
The UF Athletic Director is confident that they will be able to hire an architect team by late September. Once that decision has been made, there will be more specific concepts that will come together for the project. Stricklin told Steve Russell that this will be about an eight to ten-month process of planning between his team and the architects to create the look of the new Swamp.
It will be a hot topic of conversation throughout Gator Nation on what should be newly renovated at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It will be nearly impossible for everyone in the comment sections on Twitter to agree on what needs to be upgraded. Fortunately, Stricklin gave us a bit of insight into what some of the ideas could be for the renovation.
The gameday experience for Florida’s high school recruits is something that is of great importance to the program. He explained that there “is a need for a more robust student recruit lounge”. The current route that the recruit has to take to get from this lounge to the field is rather unappealing and inefficient. There is an ideal scenario where they could rebuild a bigger and better recruiting lounge so that it directly connects to the seats where they will watch the game from.
Stricklin also stressed the importance of having an elite student section. This is something that he feels is crucial for creating that gameday atmosphere that everyone loves. He said that the current student section is almost scattered around different parts of the stadium. Another concept he discussed was adjusting the student section to where the entire thing aligns with one specific area of the stadium. Then, the idea would be to build the rest of the seating around this section.
KEEPING THE TRADITION
The overall concern that Stricklin seems to be feeling from the fans is losing the tradition of The Swamp. However, he seems to have a great deal of confidence that this will not be the case. There are several features to the stadium that the AD is very interested in keeping the same.
One example of this is the close distance between the sidelines and the stands. The close proximity from the seating behind the visiting team is truly an advantage for the Gators. This is a feature that creates a feeling that the fans are right on top of you which is something that is sacred to the stadium. Also, the rake of the stadium is something that he looks at as special. Stricklin said during SportScene that “the stands just seem to go straight up.” Making it daunting for Florida’s opponents.
All in all, there will be numerous amounts of contributing factors that will go into these renovations. It is important to realize that Scott Stricklin will have nothing but the best interest of the fans while planning this project. Only time will tell if the fan experience will truly be enhanced, or if the historic tradition will be gone.