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17 April 2008
Stadium Protest:
Trustees Hear from Concerned Students

By Jennifer Bacchus
News Staff Writer

Students Jane Humber, Sara Adams and Andy Hug hold up signs in protest of the new proposed stadium at Jacksonville State University. Photo: Anita Kilgore

The Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees plans to have bid specifications ready for approval by their next meeting, on July 14, but the stadium renovations were discussed during Monday’s meeting as the board heard from a group of students who had come to protest the project.

“I’ve spent so many games here at Paul Snow Stadium through playing in the Marching Southerners,” said Philip Goodman, senior at JSU and spokesman for the group of protesters. “Seen us win games, seen us lose games, but have not seen us win Division I-AA and that is one thing that is critical, to me, before we move forward.”

Goodman told about his own frustrations in his major, communications, with a shortage of faculty to instruct those concentrating on broadcast journalism. The faculty is currently searching for someone to fill that position.

Goodman voiced concerns many students across the campus are feeling – that the new construction would in some way take away funding they feel should be set aside for more academic programs or additional faculty.

After Goodman had completed his remarks, Board Chairman Jim Bennett spoke to the students’ concerns, assuring them the money for the renovations would not affect the academic programs of the school.

“Our sports are already Division I in everything except football. Basketball is Division I; there is no Division I-AA in basketball,” said Bennett. “And the $37 million dollars, $20 million of that is for student housing as a dormitory as a part of that project. These funds are privately raised for the stadium and it is not an either or situation to which you could take that $17 million and put it in the communications department.”

Walter McKee of McKee and Associates, the architect for the project, spoke to the board prior to committee meetings Monday morning and showed them the latest drawings for the renovation.

McKee plans to have a main entrance into the stadium at the southeast corner. The project will add 5,400 seats to the stadium with 1,000 being set-aside for stadium club seating. During McKee’s presentation to the group, board member Randy Owen asked if the renovations could include the proper site preparation to allow the stadium to be used as a concert venue in the future.

“Have we looked to the future enough to where, if we would be willing to put concerts in this for our students, that it would be concert-friendly, in other words that they wouldn’t have to spend so much money for production?” asked Owen. “I don’t know if there is a way to do this or not, but, thinking to the future, I want to leave this better than we found it.”

Owen said he could give McKee the name of a concert producer who might be able to tell the architect what facilities would need to be available for a concert.

“That is something we were looking at when we did the artificial turf, when we brought all that substrate in, we added additional conduit,” said JSU President William Meehan in response to Owen’s questions. “You’re right, concerts today, we cannot generate enough income through our Pete Mathews Coliseum, but with this stadium and that 20,000 seat capacity, that would ensure a profit and we could bring in much larger groups.”

The board has formed an interim committee of board members Mack Roberts, Lt. Governor Jim Folsom and Jim Coxwell to discuss a possible bond issue and the financial aspects of the stadium project. Clint Carlson, JSU’s vice president of administrative and business affairs will serve as advisor to the committee.

During the meeting, the board also approved the implementation a campus transit system. A $1,943,557 grant from the Federal Transportation Administration has been awarded to the school for the project and JSU will have to supply matching funds of 20 percent.

As a part of this project, the board plans to have on-campus parking for resident students only. Commuter parking will be located on the edges of campus to encourage students to take the bus.

“It’s going to be an education to teach them to park their vehicles and use the bus system to their advantage,” said Meehan.

The board hopes to implement the system in 2009.

Also during Monday’s meeting, the board approved a tuition hike, an increase in the cost of campus housing and raised the application fee from $20 to $30. The increases are in response to a $6,591,697 reduction in state funds in the 2008-2009 proposed budget.

In-state undergraduate students will be charge $190 per credit hour, while graduate students will pay $250. Out of state students will pay twice the amount of their in-state counterparts.

The cost of distance learning classes will also go up to $240 per credit hour for undergrad and $300 for graduate-level classes.

“We think this is very reasonable considering the budget cuts we will realize this year and even with this, we are still going to have to trim the budget in order to stay within the dollars we have,” said Mack Roberts, chairman of the Building and Finance committee.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the replacement of the roof on Brewer Hall. The present flat roof will be replaced by a pitched one.

• Approved an additional retirement option for JSU faculty and staff through AIG.

About Jennifer Bachus

Jennifer Bacchus is a staff writer at The Jacksonville News. She can be reached at 256-435-5021 or via e-mail at

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