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Florida Gators athletic budget includes renovation plans

GAINESVILLE — The University of Florida Athletic Association is about $15 million shy of the $50 million needed for a major renovation of the 34-year-old O'Connell Center, but the school received approval on Tuesday to move forward with the project.

As part of the passing of a $103.3 million budget for the 2014-15 academic year, the UAA Board of Directors approved choosing a design firm for the new facility. Athletic director Jeremy Foley told the board he hopes to begin construction in March 2015, with completion in January 2016.

Gator Boosters are projected to give $34 million in the 2014-15 budget, which will increase $3.3 million from last year. SEC bowl revenue, TV contracts (not including the SEC Network) and championships are projected at $23.1 million and football and basketball ticket sales will raise $22.5 million. The Gators earned $107.3 million last year.

"There's really no new UAA revenue reflected in this budget," Foley said. "There's no ticket price increase, there's no Gator Booster price increase, which is a commitment to our fans. The funding that allows us to balance this budget from a year ago really is SEC money that's been increased to us through a number of different sources: bowl payouts, television payouts, NCAA basketball tournament. … It's in excess of $100 million but there really isn't a lot of fat in this budget."

The O'Dome renovation is part of $75 million in renovations the UAA will undertake over the next two years, including a $25 million expansion and renovation of the Office of Student Life.

On Tuesday, the board approved $1.75 million for architectural plans, and when completed, it will be 80,000 square feet, 22,880 of which will be shared with the general student population.

The Gators' travel budget will increase more than $1 million this season, mostly due to an $800,000 increase in charter costs for the men's and women's basketball teams.

For the O'Dome renovations, $40 million will come from private donations, and the university will give $10 million. Foley said he has been contacted by cities throughout Florida about hosting Gator basketball games during the renovations. He said some cities, including Tampa, might host two games. He begins working on the schedule this month.

Texas-Okla. game stays in Cotton Bowl

DALLAS — The Red River Showdown football game between Texas and Oklahoma will remain at the Cotton Bowl stadium through 2025, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The previous deal was through 2020, contingent on stadium upgrades.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the extension Tuesday, The highlight of the Texas State Fair is a marquee event for both the schools and the city. Each school receives $500,000 for playing in Dallas, along with a split of the ticket sales. The extension seems to cement a Dallas institution in Dallas.

Other Dallas events, including the Cotton Bowl's postseason game, have moved to AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington, Texas. Oklahoma and Texas have played at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park since 1929.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Florida Gators athletic budget includes renovation plans 06/10/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 9:51pm]

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