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Are you ready to Ignite Change?
Together we are writing a bold new chapter in Villanova athletics. Today we initiate a new project for the Wawa Arena at Villanova, and we take this opportunity to set a bold new direction for Villanova athletics. The plan for the new arena and athletics plan is comprehensive. It will take significant investment and commitment from the Villanova community. Will you do your part to Ignite Change?
As Jay Wright’s Wildcats enter conference play a perfect 12-0, we announce this arena plan that is worthy of Villanova’s on-court success.
- $120M to $180M project cost, depending on final design, capacity, and location.
- Located on or adjacent to Villanova University: 3 potential sites are recommended.
- Seating Capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 seats, depending on pre-sold demand.
- Premium amenities and facilities, including club boxes, concessions, scoreboards and video screens.
The new arena project promises great opportunities, and we will face certain challenges. As Villanova progresses from a top regional university to a top national university and this project supports that goal. We recognize that our athletics program enhances the student experience, provides opportunity for student athletes, engages our alumni and larger community, and strengthens our brand.
FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of VU Hoops.
Our challenges include initial funding, sound financial payback, engagement and support from alumni and friends of the university, and collaborating with our campus neighbors and local government to confirm the best final plan and design. We are committed to meeting these challenges.
Our approach is very open and direct. This is not a "give now and we will tell you our plan later" development, but rather a "commit now and we will refine the plan based on the response" development. Our Project Details:
What is the capacity of the new Wawa Arena at Villanova?
The capacity we will have to determine together! This is the first time in Villanova’s modern history that we have an opportunity to engage our community and meet the demand for season tickets, satisfy student interest, and have a competitive facility in the Big East and the larger NCAA Division 1 landscape. To fully understand this demand, and also to secure a responsible financial plan, we ask you to sign-up and state your interest. We will refine our design based on commitment and pre-sale of season tickets.
We contemplate a capacity of 10,000 to 15,000. Our base plan is 13,680 as we target your initial response, and we will refine the plan based on your response and commitment.
Who will we play in the new arena?
We plan 20 home games per year, and we plan on playing 18 games at the Wawa Arena at Villanova and 2 games at the Wells Fargo Center. We set this intended plan to maximize the return on investment for the new arena, enhance the value of your season ticket, and bring premier games to the new arena, while still reserving 2 games per year for the larger capacity draws.
9 home games are currently Big East conference games, and 2 are Big Five games. For the remaining out-of-conference games we have increased the level of the competition to provide a better fan experience and to strive for competitive excellence with increased strength-of-schedule. We are pleased to announce multi-year agreements with Syracuse, Louisville, and UConn that meet this scheduling goal and preserve our rich rivalry traditions. We will enter consecutive 2 year (home and home) agreements with multiple programs to further this scheduling goal, including targets Michigan State, Michigan, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Arizona, and Gonzaga. The result of these initiatives will be 2 premier home non-conference games per year (and 2 away).
What is the future of Villanova football, and why is it related to the arena project?
Our football future is related in many ways:
- On campus space for athletics, neighbor relations, and traffic.
- Our total athletics financing.
- Our future conference alignment options.
Like our basketball aspirations, the future of our football program will support our national university goals while engaging our community and enhancing our student experience. Duke, Stanford, and Notre Dame form a peer group that we admire. Like Villanova they are private universities with less than 10,000 undergraduate enrollments, and they are top national universities with competitive D-1 basketball and FBS football programs.
We are committed to the Big East for its offered sports and we do not expect the conference to offer football. While maintaining our conference commitment to the Big East, we seek to step-up to FBS football in another conference. We cannot assure you which path will be successful, only that we are committed. Opportunities include an FBS division in the CAA, or entry to the MAC, the American, or Conference-USA. While Coach Talley and his teams have excelled on the field we have admittedly not created the fan environment that the program deserves. Our step-up to FBS is part of our program building initiative.
FBS football increases our student athlete commitment by 22 football scholarships and a matching 22 scholarships in women’s sports. At face value, these 44 scholarships may be valued at $2.4M per year in added expense. In an honest view considering fixed costs, the men’s scholarships add only nominal costs to the university. We embrace the scholarship commitment as an opportunity to offer more student athlete support and improve our women’s programs.
Ideally we would have a FBS competitive stadium on campus to match our football aspirations. Our plan, however, is to use existing off-campus facilities for the following reasons:
- An acceptable financial return on investment is much less certain with a football stadium.
- A football schedule only requires 6 home games per year. We plan on playing at least 2 games per year at Lincoln Financial Field and the remainder at PPL Park.
- Our relationship with our neighbors is critically important. While we seek to build a new basketball arena on campus, moving our football games off campus is an effective compromise.
- Although our aspirations are high for the program, our future conference alignment for football is uncertain.
- We accept that responsible tailgating is an important part of the college football experience for alumni, fans, and students. We have admittedly struggled with our on-campus tailgating policies to the detriment of our fan base. As part of this neighbor relations compromise, tailgating will effectively be removed from campus in favor of an enhanced experience at PPL Park and Lincoln Financial Field for our home games.
As with our basketball scheduling, the level of our football is critical to student, alumni, and fan interest. We are excited to announce an agreement with Penn State in which we will host home games for 5 consecutive years at Lincoln Financial Field. This agreement is truly a win for both universities. Villanova achieves a large-draw blue chip program at home during this critical program building period, as we step-up to FBS.
Penn State benefits include:
- An away game to a growing FBS program at a time when the B1G Ten conference trend is to no longer schedule FCS programs.
- A spilt gate arrangement.
- A showcase game for Penn State alumni in Philadelphia at an NFL stadium.
- A Philadelphia TV market game for Penn State and the B1G Ten.
- A complementary basketball scheduling commitment.
Penn State basketball is on the rise with Pat Chambers’ squad off to a 12-1 start entering B1G Ten conference play. As part of our agreement with Penn State, we will enter a 6 year scheduling arrangement alternating home games, with Penn State hosting 3 games and Villanova hosting 3 home games.
We also announce an agreement to play Temple annually at Lincoln Financial Field, alternating home field. We will plan to play the majority of our remaining home games, including Parents’ Weekend and Homecoming, at PPL Park which has a current capacity of 18,500 with a plan to expand to 30,000. This schedule will assure fan interest and will easily bring our home field attendance average above the NCAA hurdle of 15,000.
When we considered the Big East football invitation a few years ago we conducted an exhaustive study on the economics of FCS and FBS football. Our FCS football program is an investment that is worthwhile for qualitative reasons but it will not yield a positive financial result. I am convinced our FBS step-up will have a similar financial loss as the current FCS model in our worst case scenario, with much greater financial and qualitative returns in our best case.
While we remain committed to the Big East and have no other conference intentions for our teams in the sports that it offers, we also recognize that the conference landscape is dynamic, and our commitment now to our basketball and football programs ensure that we have our best possible positioning in the future.
What commitment is required to support this project and secure season tickets?
We will refine our plan based on advance commitment of season tickets, sold only as basketball-football packages.
Your pledge is our first step. Our target is to sell-out between 10,000 and 11,000 season tickets.
With our pledge drive complete, we will preliminarily approve the arena plan and provide you with feedback. Our second step will be our request for you to honor your pledge, and make payment to Villanova University. So we remain transparent in a complex process and to protect your payment, we will set aside all funds in an escrow account until the project meets final Villanova Board of Trustees approval and our local government approval. Once the plan receives the necessary approvals, the funds will be released from escrow to the project and your season ticket position will be secured. If for any reason the project fails to reach approval your payments will be returned in full.
The revenue from the football allocation of the season ticket package alone will cover the incremental costs of FBS football.
Where will I sit and how much will it cost?
We strive to create an exciting arena experience and recognize key groups within the Villanova community.
- Students. Until now we have limited student attendance through a lottery system. Our objective is to offer attendance to all interested students. Enhancing the student experience is always a key objective for our initiatives. We plan for our new arena to include student standing sections that surround the court and extend behind both baskets. While these are valuable revenue potential seating areas, our plan not only prioritizes the student experience it also creates a higher energy arena experience and a stronger home-court advantage. The "Standing Ring" section along the sides of the court will be prioritized to seniors (with high game attendance histories) and freshmen. The existing lottery system will be modified to manage seating priority instead of game admission.
- Young Alumni. For the first five seasons after bachelor-level graduation, Young Alumni are offered preferred seating at discounted cost. We are investing in our long-term alumni relations and creating a better culture of engagement and giving. We also expect high energy fan support from our Young Alumni. Comparable seating will be provided at Wells Fargo Center games and football games.
- Alumni, Staff, Corporate Friends, and Fans. We will offer various levels of season packages, with premium amenities and superb sight lines. Comparable seating will be provided at Wells Fargo Center games and football games.
... - Our Premier Courtside seating is very limited.
... - Our Premium Season seating is located on the sides of the court, behind the student "Standing Ring" section. This section is elevated so seated patrons have excellent sight lines over the standing students.
... - Our Club Boxes offer exclusive seating, lounges, and service, food, and drink included. The sight lines above the "Standing Ring" section offer the most comfortable seats in the arena. An advertising package is included with each club box.
... - Our Season seating is prioritized on the court sides and corners.
... - Our Reserved seating section will be utilized for blocks of tickets for visiting teams, season ticket overflow, and student ticket overflow.
Packages (20 basketball games + 6 football games):
We expect to sell-out each section. For season tickets, excepting Student and Young Alumni packages, priority will be given within each section as follows:
1) Donation total: An initial one-time facilities donation is requested. This amount will be added to your cumulative donations (athletic or otherwise) to Villanova University over the past 5 years for your donation ranking.
2) Advance payment and length of commitment. 10% of any advance payment will be added to the donation total above. Advance payment is a working capital benefit to the project. Up to 10 years of advance payment may be accepted. Season ticket prices will be frozen for all advance payments. (For example, an 11 year commitment is the first year plus 10 years of advance payment. For a Season ticket, $2,150 x 10 years = $21,500 of advance payment, of which $2,150 will be added to your Donation total).
3) Current history season ticket priority. If the prioritization points above are equal, current length of season ticket history will be the resulting priority.
Once you have season ticket priority, you are assured first refusal for the ticket with the same or comparable seating for a 20 year period. A waiting list will be created after our first season ticket sell-out. There will be no charge for the initial waiting list. As tickets become available, those on the waiting list may bid one-time donations as the basis for priority movement to season tickets.
A "wall of honor" on the arena will list all initial season ticket holders / donors.
Is the project financially viable?
In a word, Yes. Keeping the incremental football revenue assigned to football to cover the incremental FBS costs, the basketball-only revenue will comfortably provide a pay-back of less than 5 years.
Assuming a $150M project cost and $15M naming rights agreement, a $135M capital funding remains. This $135M target will be reduced significantly by the one-time project donations. With $27M in annual basketball revenue (not including conference TV revenue), minus annual operating expenses, a 5 year pay-back is conservative.
Additional revenue potential may also be added to the total (parking splits, increased sales at WFC, advertising agreements, other events, etc).
Where will the new arena be located?
2 sites are recommended for further consideration. Each has its own attributes and challenges. We will work with our neighbors and local government to determine the final site selection.
- The current Pavilion site is one recommendation. Parking and traffic remain a challenge.
- The Chew tract and adjacent property is another recommendation. The site was sold from Villanova University to Radnor Township for a nominal amount, so an increased level of cooperation with the township would be required. The arena would be adjacent to campus, with the potential for enhanced rail service, and traffic removed from Lancaster Ave. The location is also more remote from residential neighbors. This site would also provide more opportunities for outside ownership / partnership, with additional events independent from the university reducing the university’s investment and operational costs.
What is our fallback position?
Our plan is bold, forward thinking, and appropriate for our competitive benchmarks in the Big East and D-1. But it can only be implemented with the required season ticket response.
If our response is not realized, our fallback position is a $50M renovation of the Pavilion with fewer seats, but updated comfort and amenities. In this case, our season tickets will remain sold-out to the current ticket holders, with a resulting Pavilion capacity of 6,000 to 6,500 seats.