Nebraska football is set to undergo a massive renovation of Memorial Stadium

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Lincoln, Neb. — As Memorial Stadium approaches its 100th anniversary, the Nebraska athletic department on Thursday set the stage for a major renovation that will make the venue fan-friendly for decades to come.

University leaders also announced a new multimedia rights deal, which they said will generate more than $300 million over 15 years, and alcohol will be sold at men’s and women’s basketball games at Pinnacle Bank Arena starting this season.

The athletic department must seek approval from the university’s Board of Regents, who are expected to approve the plans. The next board meeting will be held on September 30.

Nebraska is slated to open a $160 million football facility next year, and the Big Ten’s billion-dollar media rights deal announced this summer could bring unprecedented success to league members.

The announcements come less than two weeks after Nebraska began its search for a new football coach following the firing of Scott Frost. Athletic director Trev Alberts said discussions about stadium upgrades and a rights deal have been going on for months and the timing was fortuitous.

“I’m not na├»ve about the benefit of potential candidates saying, ‘Wow, despite some of our challenges in terms of wins and losses on the field, there’s a lot of momentum going on at the University of Nebraska,'” Alberts said. “If that’s a windfall, we’ll take it.”

The Cornhuskers have played at Memorial Stadium since 1923, and over the years, many improvements have been made, including luxury suites in 1999 and an expansion to more than 85,000 seats in 2013.

A redevelopment of the south end zone area, improvements to concession areas and concourses and digital infrastructure are possible, Alberts said. He had no cost estimate or timetable for the project.

The athletic department received about 22,000 responses to a survey about what amenities fans want to improve the stadium experience, and Alberts said the feedback will be used in the decision-making process.

Alberts noted that while the football team hasn’t had a winning season since 2016, it continues to enjoy strong fan support. The school holds the NCAA-record 385-game shutout streak dating back to 1962.

“We stick together in all kinds of weather,” Alberts said, quoting the school fight song. “I think the fans have stuck with us through some pretty bad storms. I think it’s time for us to do our part.”

The athletic department’s multimedia rights deal with Playfly Sports is effective Oct. 1. The deal guarantees $301 million over 15 years, or $18.2 million annually. Playfly currently owns the multimedia rights for other schools such as Southern California, LSU and Virginia.

As part of the package, Alberts said, Playfly will provide $1 million in the first two years for projects such as name, image and appearance, and additional undetermined amounts in subsequent years.

Alcohol will be sold exclusively at the Pinnacle Bank Arena as part of a two-year pilot project. Nebraska will receive 10% of the net profit, which amounts to about $100,000 this basketball season, Alberts said.

There will be no alcohol sales at Memorial Stadium because the facility is not well equipped, Alberts said. Due to existing agreements between the university, the city of Lincoln and the Lincoln Salthawks Independent League team, the Haymarket Park baseball field will not be for sale at this time.

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