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Texas to examine adding seats to football stadium’s south end

General view of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images). General view of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images).

Standing on the south end of the University of Texas’ Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium gazing into the 100,000-seat venue—100,119, to be exact—begs the question that school officials are now officially asking: How many more seats can we get in this place?

UT Athletics has teamed with PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a feasibility study on the completion of the south end, among other stadium-minded concepts.

While currently the largest football venue in Texas, the Longhorns won’t hold that distinction for long. Texas A&M’s Kyle Field has kicked off a $450 million expansion to bring its capacity to 102,500 by 2015. That just does nip the top mark of Texas.

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Steve Patterson, Texas’ men’s athletic director, says the south end project remains “conceptual” at this point.

“Any further planning will depend on a variety of factors to be studied over the next several months,” he says.

Included in the concept of adding more seats in Austin to the horseshoe-shaped stadium includes studying any necessary operational upgrades, including the needs surrounding parking and fan amenities displaced by the construction of the new Dell Medical School to the south of the 1924-built stadium. The feasibility study—which will include interviews with Longhorn Foundation members—will also scope out the possible financing options and set a likely budget for any potential project. But it gets more in-depth than that. The study could also set up an initial market and cost analysis, as well as specific details to cost, phasing options and even detailed structural analysis of existing buildings.

With the goal of finding a “superior gameday experience for all fans and stakeholders,” as Patterson says, the school fully expects the completed study will offer a recommendation for an “innovative and world-class facility that will be recognized as a leader nationally.”

Then it remains up to the UT System Board of Regents to okay the move of adding more seats and, well, overtaking the school’s SEC foe as home to the largest football stadium in Texas.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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