Texas Tech Football: What We Want To See From Jones Stadium Renovations

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 1: The marching band of the Texas Tech Red Raiders play on the field before the game against the Texas Longhorns on November 1, 2008 at Jones Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 1: The marching band of the Texas Tech Red Raiders play on the field before the game against the Texas Longhorns on November 1, 2008 at Jones Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Texas Tech Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt recently spoke about the proposed changes to the south end of Jones AT&T Stadium.  So where does this project stand and what should ultimately be done with the final phase of the stadium’s renovation?

With the new Texas Tech football Sports Performance Center nearing completion and already being used by the football team, the only remaining aspect of Jones AT&T Stadium that needs to be renovated is the south end zone building.  Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt recently gave an update to the “Lubbock Avalanche-Journal” on where the south end zone project stands.

Fans have been eager for news on this project since it was first announced in 2014.  However, other projects in the athletic department (the SPC, renovations to Rip Griffin Park and various other projects) have taken precedence.

Still, Jones Stadium is the showpiece of the athletic department and the greatest revenue-generating building on campus so the Texas Tech administration is cognizant of the need to get the most out of the entire stadium.  That is especially important for an athletic program that is facing well over $100 million of debt.

Right now, the south end zone building is antiquated and bordering on disrepair in some areas.  The main structure (where the large windows that overlook the Goin’ Band are) houses a club style area where fans can eat and enjoy drinks on game day.  Other portions of the building are makeshift suites that are not up to the standards of the other suites in Jones Stadium.

What is most disappointing about the large club area is that it is not a desirable place from which to watch a game.  Many will be content to party in that area but fans that are truly invested in the game do not find the experience enjoyable because the windows are not able to be opened (as is the case in the new suites around the stadium).

Watching a game from this area makes one feel like they are trapped in a large fish bowl.  The building does not allow Texas Tech football fans to enjoy the atmosphere of college football.

So there must be more that this space can do for the program.  Hocutt has some preliminary thoughts.

"“My thought process today is reduced-size suites,” on the south end, Hocutt told the A-J, “so maybe maximum occupancy of eight to 10 people per suite rather than the 24- to-48-seat options that we have now. It seems like that’s a size point that has significant value and interest in the future, in conversations that we’re having.”"

This would provide fans with a more enjoyable experience because they do not have to share the entire club room with strangers and it would make suites affordable to a greater range of patrons. However, there must be other ways for this space to be used in order for maximum revenue to be generated.

"Don Williams of the “A-J” reports  “A year ago, Tech athletics brainstormed ways to generate revenue at Jones AT&T Stadium outside a half dozen Saturdays in the fall. Among the ideas was using the proposed south end zone development for retail, corporate, premium and even residential space. Think food vendors in the retail category, leased office space to professionals such as accountants and attorneys in the corporate realm and more suites and loge boxes under the premium heading.”"

Making Jones Stadium more of a year-round part of the local lifestyle and entertainment culture is a must for Texas Tech to generate the type of revenue that will be required to remain competitive in major college athletics.  Just as the Dallas Cowboys have done with AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Tech must brand Jones Stadium as a local landmark that generates interest even in the offseason.

But while Hocutt’s comments are interesting, he fails to reveal too much about the most controversial aspect of the project: the design plans.  Any renovation to the south end zone will mean that the iconic Double-T scoreboard will have to be moved but Hocutt does not give any hints as to what will happen with the most distinguishable aspect of the stadium.

There is no part of Jones Stadium more argued about than that scoreboard.  Some hate the fact that it looks outdated and is crooked (a tornado or very high winds, depending on who you ask, caused the scoreboard to permanently lean.)

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As a result, its hollow middle was reinforced making any relocation far more challenging.  Still, the scoreboard needs to remain part of the Jones Stadium area.  It is too iconic to be done away with entirely.

Another hope for the south end zone is that the designer will incorporate the Spanish renaissance architecture that Texas Tech is famous for.  The original drawings, released three years ago, were heavily criticized by fans because the south end zone did not seem to fit the motif of the rest of the school.

It would be a shame if the marquee building on campus had a mismatched look like Texas A&M’s Kyle Field and Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium did for years before both were renovated.  To make the stadium tie into the look of the campus, perhaps a bell tower could be the focal point of the design similar to the design of the United Supermarkets Arena.

One addition that seems to be a must is the inclusion of at least one video board.  Fans sitting at the north end of the stadium must turn completely around to see replays and in-game media presentations on the large video screen.

But whatever the school decides to do with the south end zone, everyone can agree that the powers that be must get it right in every aspect.  When this project is finished, Jones Stadium will complete a stadium-wide facelift that began in the early 2000’s.

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As a result, there will be virtually no space available for large-scale changes down the road.  As is the case with what will happen inside Jones Stadium this fall, what ultimately happens to the south end zone will have lasting ramifications on the future of Texas Tech football.