If the Bostock Group has its way, football games in Wallace Wade may be an entirely different experience.
Chaired by Roy Bostock, Trinity ’62, the group is putting together long-term plans for renovating Wallace Wade Stadium. Construction plans—which are in the early planning stages—are part of an effort to maximize football revenue and modernize Duke’s facilities, said Executive Vice President Tallman Trask.
The University needs to provide first-rate facilities to support a more competitive program and increase the program’s revenue, Bostock said.
“My view of the University... is if we, as Duke, are involved in an activity or facet of the University.... we’re going to be worldclass,” said Bostock, a former member of the Board of Trustees. “And we haven’t been with the football program, and we need to get there.”
Overhauling Wallace Wade
University administrators and Bostock emphasized that the Bostock Study, which outlines construction proposals, is a preliminary document. The primary objectives for construction, however, have already been established: to “expand capacity, [create a] dramatic entry, create intimacy [and] increase premium amenities.”
In its current form, the Bostock Study lists four phases of construction. The first project would add a combination of seats and offices and improve the concourse on the west side of the stadium. The second phase would remove the stadium’s track and lower the field 5 feet to add eight rows of seats—about 2,896 total. The third project would add an upper seating deck to the east side of the stadium and modernize the concourse. The final phase—arguably the most ambitious of the projects, and the most tentative—would complete the bowl so Wallace Wade is no longer a horseshoe shape.
Trask estimated that completing the four projects would cost between $80 and $90 million, but noted that those estimates are based on blocking diagrams, not detailed drawings. Determining the necessity of certain projects, such as adding seats by completing the stadium’s bowl, requires a better sense of how much demand there is in the local area to watch Duke Football compete, Bostock said.
“When you get right down to it, we’re going to have to do the deep dive on the demographics in the area, how many people we think we can attract to a winning football program and pay ticket prices that are increased,” Bostock said. “Once you [complete the other projects] you say, ‘Do we complete the bowl? Do we need to?’”
Head coach David Cutcliffe declined to comment on the report through Sports Information Director and spokesperson Art Chase. Director of Athletics and Vice President Kevin White was not available for comment.
“We’re constantly looking at facilities and construction, and it’s premature to discuss anything specific to the Bostock Report,” said Jon Jackson, associate athletics director for university and public affairs. “It’s one of several ways we’re assessing our facility needs [for athletics as a whole].”
Jackson said the athletics department is hesitant to speak at length about the plans because of its responsibility to be “good University citizens” during difficult financial times as the University attempts to eliminate its $40 million deficit.
Trask called the Bostock Study a “discussion document” and added that all plans are contingent on fundraising efforts that “haven’t started in earnest.” The group will also discuss construction to Cameron Indoor Stadium—including adding a store area and improving amenities in the lobby—but the stadium’s changes will not be as visible as those made to Wallace Wade.
The Bostock Group
Composed of former Duke athletes and experts in their respective fields, the Bostock Group includes nine of the University’s most influential alumni and donors.
In addition to Bostock, the committee’s members are Nick Arison, T ’03, Kevin Compton, Graduate School ’99, Michael Fitzpatrick, T ’70, Grant Hill, T ’94, John Mack, T ’68 and a member of the Trustees, Chris Rising, T ’91, Adam Silver, T ’84, Gary Wilson, T ’62, and Spike Yoh, Engineering ’58 and former Trustees chair.
Some committee members played football or basketball at Duke, and others are involved because they have a passion for athletics and have special skill sets, Bostock said.
“This group has a charge just beyond, ‘Let’s draw up some pictures.’ It’s about, ‘How do you pay for these things?’” said Mike Cragg, senior associate director for athletics. “Bring in experts, bring in consultants, find out the value, figure out financing strategies.... It’s not just going to magically happen. It’s going to take a lot of creativity and strong-willed people.”
Bostock said he has a vested interest in the success of the football program because his own experience at the University was shaped by the sport.
“Some of us played at Duke when Duke Football was bigger than Duke basketball,” Bostock said. “That was true in my day of playing at Duke. I was on the team that beat Arkansas in 1961 in the Cotton Bowl. We know that it can be done.”
Funding an ambitious vision
Planning for future athletics construction while the University is making tough budget cuts is sure to generate criticism, Trask said. But the University will not be funding any significant part of the construction to Wallace Wade or Cameron.
“It’s not going to happen unless the money is raised [by donors to athletics],” Trask said. “For the first project they have to raise between $40 and $50 million, and I’m not highly optimistic in this economy it will happen very quickly—it’s not going to happen this year.”
In addition to overcoming the athletic department’s own budgetary issues, the Trustees will likely push to make sure that the academic side of the University is not forgotten, said Michael Gillespie, chair of the Athletic Council and political science professor. At many schools, athletics planning is run separate from the rest of the university, but at Duke the Board is more conscious of academic objectives, he added.
“The danger with [running them separately] is that it becomes the tail that wags the dog,” Gillespie said. Still, some donors especially passionate about athletics cannot be convinced to give to academics, he added.
“We had a legendary case 8-9 years ago,” Trask said, retelling a story told among administrators. “A donor came to us and said, ‘It’s my money, and I want to give it to athletics.”
The Bostock Group has not yet discussed fundraising efforts, but Bostock said he expects to make a personal contribution and assist in fundraising efforts.
An academic promise
Tentative planning for stadium construction is the next step in the University’s commitment to football since hiring Cutcliffe in December 2007. In Duke’s most recent tax filing, Cutcliffe’s salary is listed at $1.54 million—three times as much as the University paid its last coach, Ted Roof, as reported by The (Raleigh) News & Observer.
With the new hire, however, came worries that Duke Football could only succeed by lowering academic standards, Gillespie said. But at least in Cutcliffe’s first two years, the average grade point average of a freshman tier-one athlete—which includes football and basketball players—has increased by 0.5, he added.
“Can we be a championship football team and maintain our academic standards where we are? It depends what you mean,” Gillespie said. “Can we compete for ACC championships? Probably, we can. Cutcliffe is a genius coach who runs a program that relies on skill rather than size.... Are we ever going to be able to consistently compete for a national championship? I doubt it.”
Both Gillespie and Trask noted that consistently competing for national titles would likely require sacrifices that Duke is not willing to make.
“I don’t think we want to live in that world. [But we would like to be] competitive and bowl eligible more than not,” Trask said.