New North Texas Mean Green Stadium

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New North Texas Mean Green Stadium

Apogee Stadium is the new stadium in Denton, Texas for the North Texas Mean Green football team. Located on the former Eagle Point Golf Course, the stadium is part of the Mean Green Village, an athletic village on the University of North Texas (UNT) campus. Apogee Stadium replaced Fouts Field, which had been home to the football program since the facility opened in 1951.

History

The stadium was first proposed in the early 2000s when UNT began planning on an athletic village, Mean Green Village, on land previously occupied by the former Eagle Point Golf Course.

Texas state law allows student athletic fees to fund up to 50% of the cost of a new football Stadium. A previous attempt to get students to pass a referendum for a student fee in 2002 was rejected by 55% of UNT's voting students. Administrators then sold the fee to Student Senators as a way to help the university achieve Title IX compliance in its athletic program. The Senate approved a "moderate athletics fee" of roughly half the original fee. The UNT Board of Regents met on Easter Sunday to OK the fee increase, which immediately went into effect. Fourteen members of the SGA were recalled over this perceived abuse of power.

Since then the UNT Athletic Department has funded most facility improvements exclusively through donations. The last facility in need of being updated was Fouts Field, the expense of which appeared beyond simple donations. On July 7, 2008, the University of North Texas increased the size of its CP program, freeing up a total of $70 million to finance capital projects.

In 2008, the athletic department tried again for student funding. The student government appeared to accept these findings, but left the decision up to the student body, publicly stating that they would not follow the example of the previous SGA and attempt to overturn the results of the student body vote. In February 2008, HKS, Inc. was selected to provide initial architectural and design services for the proposed new stadium.

In preparation of a vote, pro-stadium advocates built an organized support group using Facebook that would ultimately boast over 2000 members. Those against the increased fees would later also create a Facebook group. The SGA and the Greek organizations on campus were two major supporters focusing on pushing the passing of the resolution. The student paper, the NT Daily, opposed the stadium fee in its editorials but ran multiple submitted opinion pieces for and against it..

In one of the largest student voting turnouts in UNT history, a student body referendum was held in October 2008. On October 18, 2008, it was announced that the student body of North Texas approved a dedicated athletic fee that will partially fund construction of the new stadium. Almost 14 percent of the student body voted, with about 59 percent of student voters in favor a net $7 per semester hour fee increase that would be earmarked for the athletics department. The referendum established a $10/credit hour dedicated athletics fee starting once the stadium is built. Previously there was no dedicated athletics fee at UNT --- although the athletic department did receive a $3 per credit hour amount redirected from their "student services" fees. The $10 per credit hour fee will be added and $3 per credit hour will be deducted from the student services fee, creating the net $7 per credit hour increase for students.

The University of North Texas commissioned HKS, Inc., a Dallas-based architecture firm, who previously designed the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars' American Airlines Center, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and the Texas Rangers' Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to design a replacement for Fouts Field. The 30,850 seat stadium originally had a projected price tag of $60M that ballooned to $78M after the student referendum was held.

On February 12, 2009, the "NT Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society", launched a campaign to overturn the student vote that authorized the stadium. The petition to hold a re-vote was rejected by the SGA on March 23. On May 27, 2009, Governor Rick Perry signed legislation approving new student athletic fee.

Though initial reports claimed that the stadium would not begin construction until a good amount of the money needed to be raised by the department had been acquired, on ground breaking day University President Gretchen Bataille admitted that of the approximately $39 million needed to be raised, they had only "reached the $5 million mark". It is unknown at this time how much more has been raised.

Although the student fee was necessary to fund the stadium, athletics administrators claimed it was also needed in order to allow the university to be competitive in all their sports offerings at the Football Bowl Subdivision(FBS) level. The fee will be permanent and is also structured so it can be slowly raised each year in the future without having to go through another student referendum. Texas state law caps the maximum athletic fee in Texas at $20 per semester hour.

Stadium features

Unlike Fouts Field, Apogee Stadium will not have a track surrounding the field. At Fouts Field, a third of the 30,000 seats are set approximately 8 meters further away from the field than without a track. Without a track, the end zone seats will be right behind the endzone, a much smaller footprint. In addition to the end zone seating being much closer to the field, the mock-ups of the new stadium suggest that somewhere around 75% of the stadium's seats (~22-26,000) will be sideline seats in this stadium, vs. the 66% (20,000) at Fouts.

Apogee Stadium will be a LEED certified Stadium, built in part with recycled materials and utilizing solar panels to provide some of the stadium's power needs. The capacity of the stadium is somewhat unclear, with almost every news report stating a slightly different capacity. All reported capacities are in the 30,000 to 35,000 range. The stadium will also have 24 luxury suites. Additionally, it will be built to be expandable to 50,000 in the future if turnout suggests expansion is desirable.

Construction

The UNT administration stated no construction would begin until fundraising goals were met in pursuit of raising the other 50% of the stadium's costs not raised by the students. Manhattan Construction Company was hired to provide pre-construction and construction services on the stadium.

Stadium renditions were released in April 2009. Per Ann Clinkscales, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development, The University of North Texas Athletics Department would reveal the total amount of donations at the spring football game on April 4, 2009, though no disclosure was made.

Ground was broken on November 21, 2009. On August 11, 2011, UNT announced they signed a deal with Apogee for a 20-year, $20 million dollar contract for naming rights.

Building Activity

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