Kyle Field expansion underscores the health of college football in Texas
Word broke Tuesday that the long-awaited expansion of Kyle Field, pending Board of Regents approval, will vault Texas A&M's home into the upper-echelon of college football venues. With a reported capacity north of 102,000, Kyle Field will trail only Michigan Stadium and Beaver Stadium on the national landscape, surpassing Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium and its 100,119 capacity for in-state bragging rights.
We've documented Texas A&M's plans for Kyle Field's future in the past. While they are grand and glorious, the rest of the state's college football programs collectively turn to College Station and say, "Join the club."
Since 2000, nearly every FBS program has undertaken or completed major stadium overhauls. In some cases, that meant building a new stadium altogether. The trend kicked off when SMU opened Gerald J. Ford Stadium in 2000. North Texas opened brand-new Apogee Stadium in 2011. Baylor and Houston will open new stadiums in 2014.
TCU's Amon Carter Stadium is still standing, but similar to the old structure in name only. The 73-year-old structure was nearly completely leveled and rebuilt with the hopes of becoming the "Camden Yards of College Football". Texas has rebuilt its north end zone, added bleachers to the south end zone and broken ground on the excessively large video screen era. Texas Tech has revamped the east side of Jones AT&T Stadium, added a new scoreboard and pushed capacity over 60,000 for the first time.
That leaves only UTEP and Rice among the existing FBS programs to not have jackhammer-in-the-ground progress on stadium improvements, though plans have been introduced for both schools. Enthusiasm for the game has spread to the lower levels as UTSA and Texas State (with a $25 million upgrade to Bobcat Stadium) have recently become Texas' 11th and 12th FBS programs, while Lamar, Incarnate Word, Houston Baptist and Abilene Christian have joined or are in the process of joining the FCS ranks.
When the Lone Star State's programs go on the road, they can play in the state-of-the-art Reliant Stadium, the massively upgraded Cotton Bowl or the world-class Cowboys Stadium, home of the inaugural College Football Championship.
Now if only we could get our nation's economy to be as healthy as the college football economy inside the state of Texas.