AD plans to move quickly on FAMU’s Bragg Stadium renovation
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Since the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency Board approved $10 million for the renovation of Bragg Memorial Stadium at FAMU, the big question athletic director Kortne Gosha now faces is when work will begin.
There are some logistical things to be done and protocol to be followed but work seemingly will begin before too long.
“We do understand the urgency, especially as it pertains to our inaugural season in the SWAC, starting in 2021,” Gosha said during an interview last Friday. “We are working through that right now but we are going to move quickly.
“We are going to move with haste. We have already done some pre-work on campus. Hopefully over the next 30 days we can finalize a true timeline after doing the appropriate assessment.”
The 63-year-old stadium has not had any major renovations done since 1982. A new turf was installed in the summer of 2018, but questions lingered whether it was fit to hold games next season without the upgrades.
A list of specifics on what will be done is still to be decided, Gosha said. However, he said they will include “structural issues that must be addressed as it relates to some of the seating areas on both sides of Bragg.”
Upgrading or doing a complete overhaul of the press box and rest rooms were among the priorities that he mentioned, along with bringing lighting up to codes.
Obtaining funding to improve Bragg is the latest of several major athletic projects under Gosha’s watch since he took the position last November.
The funding from the IA was approved a day after FAMU reported to the Board of Governors that it had achieved a balanced budget for athletics. The feat was achieved despite not having revenue that football would have generated this fall without the COVID-19 pandemic.
Personnel reductions and the athletic staff taking a 7 percent cut in salaries also helped athletics balance its budget. Just weeks earlier, FAMU completed installation of an artificial turf on its softball field. At the same time, major upgrades to the football field house and locker room is nearing completion.
Gosha’s early hires include a new women’s basketball coach and health and fitness trainer.
The Intergovernmental Agency first took up FAMU’s request for funding the renovation at Bragg during a July 9 meeting. Gosha called approval of the request “a monumental day for our entire university.”
The 12-member IA board, which is made up of Leon County and Tallahassee City Commissioners, decided to reduce a $40 million allocation for the FSU Convention Center to come up with the money for Bragg.
Leon County Commissioner Nick Maddox and City Commissioner Diane Williams-Cox, a FAMU alumna, both vehemently championed the proposal. When the stadium is improved, it could generate as much as $26 million into the local economy.
County Commissioners Bryan Desloge, Jimbo Jackson and Kristin Dozier voted against approving the founding.
“This vote was very important to the City of Tallahassee and to FAMU,” Williams-Cox said following the vote. “The economic impact that this project will bring to our community speaks volumes to how important FAMU is in helping the city move our priorities forward for all our residents.”
FAMU President Larry Robinson expressed appreciation to Blueprint board for making the investment in the renovation of Bragg. At the same time, he praised FAMU Vice Presidents Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Gosha and William E. Hudson, Jr., for their effort in making the request for FAMU.
‘The return on this investment will include positive economic outcomes for citizens on Tallahassee’s Southside; excitement for persons who attend athletic events in the venue,” said Robinson, adding that it will be “inspiration and pride for those who understand the cultural significance of all that occurs inside and around the stadium.”
In addition to being the home field for the Rattler football program, Bragg has also been the venue for commencement ceremonies, concerts and other events that have brought thousands of people to Tallahassee. FAMU annual homecoming festivities attract some of the largest crowds in the region and produces an estimated $2 million annual economic impact.
“This is great news for FAMU,” said Rev. RB Holmes, a former member of the school’s Board of Trustees and publisher of the Outlook. “This is an historic commitment by our commissioners. Bragg stadium is a sacred place in the community and on campus.
“The $10 million support from our local officials clearly demonstrates how important Bragg is to our town . I commend president Robinson, Athletic Director Gosha, FAMU supporters and the commissioners for getting this project over the goal line.”
FAMU is expected to resume playing football in the MEAC next the spring, but with the possibility of construction at the stadium, it’s not clear if they’ll play there before the program’s first season in the SWAC next fall. Gosha engineered a move from the MEAC to the SWAC in one of his other moves since becoming AD.
For as many big changes that Gosha has brought in less than a year, he said there is no secret to getting things done.
“The magic is when you have a phenomenal president like mine who understands there is a difference between athletics business and the business of athletics,” he said. “He allows me to do my job and he supports me. Without his leadership and guidance, none of the things that we have accomplished in a short time would have been possible.”
He said his support staff, which includes deputy director of athletics/chief of staff Keith McCluney, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Business and Finance Karai Lockley and Director for Administration and Operations Michael Johnson have also played major roles in the department’s success.