Business fee to fund Sun Devil Stadium renovation

STADIUM RENOVATION: A bill signed Saturday by Gov. Jan Brewer will give ASU the money needed to renovate Sun Devil Stadium. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Gov. Jan Brewer held a ceremonial signing Saturday of a bill that will give ASU money to renovate Sun Devil Stadium.

The University Athletic Facilities District bill allows ASU to charge a fee to businesses located on campus. Money from the fee will go toward the funding of renovation projects of ASU’s athletic facilities, including the stadium.

The ceremonial signing, which wasn’t open to the public, took place at President Michael Crow’s pre-game tailgate before Saturday’s football game.

The bill, officially signed in April, allows the Arizona Board of Regents to set up a district on ASU property to collect revenue from local businesses, said state Rep. Warde Nichols, R-Gilbert, the primary sponsor of the bill.

Even though the measure was designed to allocate money for maintenance and renovations for all athletic facilities, the initial target will be the football stadium because it needs the most work, he said.

The stadium needs an estimated $215 million to $350 million within the next five to eight years to remain open, Nichols said.

Local businesses will be able to lease land on the University’s Tempe campus and pay an assessment to ASU that will go directly to the University Athletics Facility District fund, said Rep. John McComish, R-Ahwatukee, a co-sponsor of the bill.

The University does not pay property tax to the state. Businesses located within the specific district will now be required to pay a fee to the University that is equivalent to the price of the city of Tempe’s property tax, McComish said.

A portion of the fee paid to the University will go to the fund designated for stadium renovations, he said.

The University first has to establish the exact boundaries of the on-campus district that will qualify for this new plan.

Once the district is established, only businesses that renew their contract or move to the district will be affected, Nichols said.

Nichols estimates the fund will accumulate enough money to begin planning renovations within two to five years, he said.

Education freshman Cailey Hale, who has regularly attended football games at Sun Devil Stadium for the past six years, said the stadium is due for some renovation.

“The atmosphere is always so fun and spirited, but I think the stadium could use some updates,” she said.

The stadium restrooms are in the most need of repair, she said.

“The last time I used the bathroom was a year ago because of how gross they are,” Hale said.

Hale said she loves the stadium because it has been a family tradition to attend the games for the past few years. She hopes the renovations do not affect the authenticity of the stadium.

“Other college stadiums are up to date, I feel like,” Hale said. “It would definitely add to the atmosphere if it was cleaner and more modern.”

At this point, people can only estimate when the fund will have enough money for the renovations. The change in the economy will play a big factor in the success of this program, McComish said.

University of Arizona and Northern Arizona are also included in this bill and have the opportunity to establish districts of their own on their campuses, Nichols said.

Reach the reporter at cottens@asu.edu