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06.01.2010 / Talks of Expanding Memorial Stadium. Blog posting by Mike Babcock, Huskers Illustrated Magazine.

Nebraska ranked 10th nationally in football attendance in 2009. It also was a testament to the restoration of Husker tradition by coach Bo Pelini.

"The Huskers are receiving top-10 consideration in preseason polls and they have a realistic shot at winning the Big 12 and playing in a BCS bowl. "

An average of 85,888 watched the Cornhuskers play at Memorial Stadium. That was 106 percent of capacity.

Nebraska can’t expect to climb much higher in NCAA attendance rankings, however, even as Pelini’s restoration project continues. The Huskers are receiving top-10 consideration in preseason polls and they have a realistic shot at winning the Big 12 and playing in a BCS bowl.

Nevertheless, there is no guarantee they will finish in the top 10 in attendance in 2010, even averaging more than capacity again. Memorial Stadium isn’t among the nation’s 10 largest college football venues. In fact, with an official capacity of 81,067, it barely ranks in the top 20.  (In 2009, Memorial Stadium ranked No. 17.)

That could change in the not-too-distant future as the athletic department considers expansion on Memorial Stadium’s east side. Additional skybox suites and club seating are possibilities. Capacity could increase to 90,000-plus, which would push Nebraska close to the top 10, if not in it.

Currently, 11 colleges call stadia with capacity of 90,000 or more home. Five have stadia seating 100,000 or more. Penn State’s Beaver Stadium is the largest, at 107,282. Michigan’s Michigan Stadium is second (106,201), followed by Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium (102,309), Texas’ Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119) and Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium (100,011).

Michigan led the nation in attendance in 2009, averaging 108,933, or just under 103 percent of capacity, followed by Penn State, Ohio State and Texas. Obviously, there’s a correlation.  In any case, increased revenue would be a significant consideration in expanding Memorial Stadium. Nebraska’s NCAA-record sellout streak, now at 304, might be in jeopardy if too many seats were added.

When there was talk of building a 100,000-seat stadium between Lincoln and Omaha during Bob Devaney’s tenure at Nebraska – and it was never really more than imaginative talk – the Hall of Fame coach (and athletic director) said that demand for tickets should exceed the supply. Devaney’s wisdom still applies. Even though Nebraska has a waiting list for football tickets, the demand is finite. So the key to expansion is to first determine the saturation point.

For more great content on the Huskers, check out Huskers Illustrated Magazine or huskersillustrated.com.

What do you think about expanding Memorial Stadium, should we do it? Post a comment now.

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