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Changes, they are coming....to NU athletic facilities

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If you're a season ticket holder, donor or somehow in the NU athletic department's email database, you likely received an online survey this afternoon soliciting your input on potential upgrades to Ryan Field and Welsh-Ryan Arena or construction of a new basketball arena.

You will recall that back in October, NU commissioned sports architecture firm Populus to develop an "athletics and recreation facilities master plan," and this survey appears part of that effort. Ryan Field was last renovated in 1997, with $30 million, in the wake of our Rose Bowl and Citrus Bowl appearances. That project converted the field from turf to grass and lowered the playing surface to improve sight-lines. A new press box and enclosed VIP seating area were also constructed in the upper deck. Welsh-Ryan Arena got a modest $4 million upgrade in 2007-2008, with new locker rooms, players' lounges and coaches' offices.

Interestingly, the survey revealed several options being considered for facility upgrades, but the questions were all related to fan experience, so there weren't any insights on locker room improvements, weight room enhancements or other player amenities.

Keeping in mind that all the survey questions were hypothetical and that NU hasn't in any way committed to any renovations, here are some nuggets after the jump.  (By the way, there was no mention of putting in an ice rink into Welsh-Ryan.)

There were many questions on the survey asking for opinions on seat comfort, concourse width, tailgating experience and general game-day atmosphere. The bulk of the survey, however, focused on possible new premium seating options. Seems NU is looking to generate more revenue with VIP ticket sales. That's not necessarily a bad thing in itself, if NU is able to reinvest those proceeds well, and they don't end up alienating those of us fans of more modest means.

These are quotes from the survey:

Renovations to Ryan Field could include the construction of 20 new suites along the sideline. The proposed new suites could include seating for approximately 16 people in an upscale, climate-controlled environment. Amenities could include VIP parking, access to an exclusive club lounge, in-suite catering, climate-controlled lounge, restrooms accessible only to suite patrons, and TV monitors. Also, suites may be shared with others if desired, to share the cost and seat inventory.

Future stadium renovations may include the addition of loge boxes located along the sidelines. Loge boxes would seat 4 people and would be located outside under cover and could include either comfortable chairs on casters or fixed seats with dividers between each box. Each loge box may be equipped with a drink rail and flat screen television monitor and would come with club lounge access and VIP parking. The University may allow multiple parties to share a loge box, if desired.

A renovated Ryan Field could also include approximately 150 indoor club seats with chair backs; wider, padded seats; and more leg room than regular stadium seating. Indoor club seats would be similar to a private suite environment, but it would contain seating for about 150 people and be sold on a per seat basis. Indoor club seats would be located in a prime location with excellent sightlines to the field. The seats would be situated behind glass in a climate-controlled environment and the seating area would have smaller operable glass windows to allow crowd noise to be heard. Amenities could include preferred parking, private restrooms, TV monitors, upscale food and beverage service as well as access to a private club that will be located immediately behind the seats. The club will be located in a large, well-furnished area with a view of the field, upscale concession areas, and private restrooms.

Renovation plans could include the addition of up to 2,000 outdoor club seats along the sideline. Outdoor club seats might be covered by a roof overhang, have chair backs and would be wider seats and provide more leg room than regular stadium seating. Amenities could include preferred parking, private restrooms, TV monitors, upscale food and beverage service as well as access to a private club that will be located in a climate-controlled space immediately behind the seats. The club will be in a large, well-furnished area with a view of the field, upscale concession areas, and private restrooms.

...

Northwestern Athletics is also considering a major renovation or construction of a new arena to replace Welsh-Ryan Arena as the home of Men's and women's basketball. A renovated or new arena could include wider concourses, additional restrooms and concessions, state-of-the-art scoreboard and videoboard, several potential new seating options, and other upgrades that would enhance the game-day experience for Wildcats fans.

A renovated or new arena could include approximately 10 private suites that would likely be located at the top of the seating bowl with excellent sightlines to the arena floor. Private suites could seat approximately 12 people (including fixed seats and bar stools). Suite amenities could include preferred parking, VIP entrance, private suite level restrooms, TV monitors and exclusive access to a private club with premium food and beverage options. Suite leases would likely take the form of an annual donation to the Wildcat Fund, a portion of which could be tax deductible as a charitable contribution. Suite lessees would be required to purchase Northwestern athletic event tickets. They would also have the right to purchase tickets to any other ticketed event held at the arena.

A renovated or new arena could also incorporate loge boxes. Loge boxes typically have seating for four (4) people with chairs on roller casters that are wider and more comfortable than general seating areas. Each loge box may also be equipped with a drink rail and flat screen television monitor. Loge box amenities could include preferred parking, VIP entry, and access to a private club within the arena with premium food/beverage and private restrooms. Loge box leases would likely take the form of an annual donation to the Wildcat Fund, of which a significant portion may be tax deductible as a charitable contribution. Loge box lessees would be required to purchase tickets for Men's basketball and would have the right to purchase tickets for other arena events.

A new arena could also include upwards of 400 club seats. Club seats could be located in the lower bowl of the arena, or on a club level at the top of the lower bowl, with excellent sightlines to the court. Club seating typically includes padded chair backs, wider seats and more legroom relative to standard seating. Amenities could include preferred parking, VIP entry, and access to a private club inside the arena that would have upscale food/beverage service and private restrooms. Club seat leases would likely take the form of an annual donation to the Wildcat Fund. Club seat patrons would be required to purchase Men's basketball tickets and would also have the option to purchase tickets to other arena events.

A renovated or new arena could also include 60 to 80 courtside seats. Courtside seats would be located within the first few rows of the basketball court during men's and women's basketball games and could include padded chair backs, wider seats and more legroom relative to standard seating. Amenities might also include preferred parking and access to a private club inside the arena that would have upscale food and beverage service. Courtside seat leases would likely be in the form of an annual donation to the Wildcat Fund, of which a significant portion may be tax deductible. Courtside seat patrons would be required to purchase men's or women's basketball tickets and would have the option to purchase tickets to other arena events.