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April 11, 2011

Latest On Football Decision

Latest on the Villanova Football Upgrade Decision

As reported by VUSports on Friday and updated on Saturday, the Big East football schools met Sunday to consider Villanova's potential membership in the Big East for football.

The Big East decided to ask Villanova for more clarity on the proposed stadium solution included in the upgrade plan. Fr. Peter Donahue sent out an email to Villanovans indicating that the decision to move up will be postponed indefintely pending additional planning and fact-finding by the league and Villanova.

PPL Park, as currently configured, only seats 18,500. The stadium has standing room and temporary seating that can be used in the current configration to up the seating to the 20,000-21,00 range.

That may be acceptable to the Big East during the transition phase as Villanova ramps up to full Big East football membership. However, several Big East football member schools are not satisfied with PPL as a solution. Especially if Villanova can't present a definitized plan and timeline that demonstrate how the eventual expansion of the stadium to a 30-35K capacity would be orchestrated and funded.

The Villanova Board of Trustees was prepared to announce a move up to play Big East football this Tuesday had the Big East accepted all aspects of the Villanova upgrade plan.

The biggest hurdle now is that Villanova does not control it's own destiny in regards to PPL. The University has to work with the Philadelphia Union and the government entities that control PPL Park to craft a stadium expansion plan that is acceptable to all parties. Funding vehicles for the project must also be identified.

If this hurdle cannot be cleared then the only ray of hope for Villanova's upgrade chances is that other aspects of the proposal such as entry fees, away game appearance fees, revenue sharing, etc. can be negotiated to satisfy the schools that are currently against Villanova's move up under the current plan (believed to be Rutgers, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and one other) and Villanova.

Other stadium options are limited. Radnor Township balks at any attempt to increase the capacity of Villanova's on campus venue, Franklin Field is a dated stadium that is owned by the University of Pennsylvania, Lincoln Financial Field is run by the Philadelphia Eagles and Temple University currently has an agreement/lease that runs through 2017, and Citizens Bank Park (The Philadelphia Phillies Stadium) would most likely only be made available in November and December after completion of the World Series.

Just when it appeared that an announcement may finally be made the drama continues. 'Nova Nation continues to ride the emotional rollercoaster as the process runs it's course.

In the Southeast, football is king. In the Northeast, basketball brings more positive press to the Big East Conference than does football. At the end of the day will the basketball and the football members of the Big East come to the realization that the long-term success of the league and it's members is best served by balancing the football and basketball "products"?


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