Nebraska football set for major renovation of Memorial Stadium

LINCOLN, Neb. – With Memorial Stadium on the cusp of its 100th anniversary, the Nebraska athletics department broke ground Thursday on a major renovation that will make the venue more fan-friendly for decades to come.

University officials also announced a new multimedia rights deal that will bring in more than $300 million over 15 years and announced that beginning this season, alcohol will be sold at Pinnacle Bank Arena at men’s and women’s basketball games.

The athletics department must get approval from the university’s Board of Regents, who are expected to approve the plans. The next board meeting is 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 brings unprecedented surprises 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 the stadium upgrade and rights deal have been going on for months and that the timing is fortuitous.

“I’m not naive to 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 it’s an unintended benefit, we’ll take it.”

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

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

The athletic department received about 22,000 responses to a survey about what amenities fans would like to improve the stadium experience, Alberts said, and that feedback will be used to inform decisions.

Alberts noted that the football team continues to enjoy strong fan support despite not having a winning season since 2016. The school has an NCAA record 385-game shutout streak that began in 1962.

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

The sports department’s multimedia rights agreement with Playfly Sports will take effect on October 1. The deal guarantees $301 million over 15 years, or about $18.2 million annually. Playfly currently owns the multimedia rights for Southern California, LSU and Virginia, among others.

Alberts said that as part of the package, Playfly will contribute $1 million to name, image and likeness programs in the first two years, with additional unspecified amounts in subsequent years.

As part of the two-year pilot program, alcohol would be sold only at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Nebraska would receive 10% of the net profit, which Alberts said will amount to about $100,000 this basketball season.

There will be no alcohol sales at Memorial Stadium because the facility is not properly equipped to do so, Alberts said. The baseball stadium at Haymarket Park is also currently off sale due to agreements between the University, the City of Lincoln and the Lincoln Saltdogs Independent League team.