After a year of reading about the Florida State Athletic budget deficit and lost revenues due to Covid-19 social distancing, I’ll bet you are ready to read some good news. And this guy is ready to report it.
Let’s start with the black and white. In spite of an estimated $10 million current year deficit in the athletics budget, FSU Athletics and Seminole Boosters are doing quite well in raising money for the capital campaign, which funds facility needs for a variety of sports. The five-year campaign, which began in August 2018 set a goal of raising $100 million in pledges to projects. Just 2.5 years into the campaign, the Boosters reported $102 million pledged and $29 million paid.
“We hit the goal almost three years ahead of schedule but we’re not stopping now,” said Seminole Booster CEO and President Michael Alford. “We’re re-examining as some of the priorities have changed and we’re going to be launching some new initiatives soon.”
Football Operations Building
Football operations has been a major topic of conversation and study for five years, through head coaching changes and will be a primary driver over the remainder of this campaign. The project was coming into focus during the Jimbo Fisher era. When Fisher departed for Texas A&M, FSU went back to the drawing board with Willie Taggart and two years later with Mike Norvell.
At the end of the day, three head coaches offered their design ideas, which should lead to the right design idea.
“We’re working with the leadership on campus right now to identify a few things but we have had constant support for the project,” Alford said.
Of the $102 million pledged thus far to the campaign, more than $38 million has been to the football operations building, now coming into focus after Mike Norvell provided his input to Populous, the architectural firm doing the design.
“We’ve looked at all of it,” said Alford. “We looked at everything and (a Moore Center renovation) just doesn’t work. Our plan is to build a stand-alone facility. We’re doing due diligence right now.”
Obviously, construction costs have increased since the original plans — estimated at $60 million — were inked. Alford said the architects will provide everything needed to ensure “an informed decision.”
Those decisions will increase the budget for the project as well as the campaign goal over the final 2.5 years of the fundraising initiative.
“Populous is coming back to us with the pros and cons of all of it and then we’re going to pick and go,” Alford said. “All the due diligence will have been done.”
Capital projects, like this one, were in serious jeopardy 11 months ago when the FSU basketball team was yanked off the ACC Tournament floor and football cancelled spring practice because of the pandemic.
Advancing this project through the design phase and to the BOT reflects Athletics/Boosters’ bullish attitude toward pursuing competitive excellence and the strength and passion of its fan base.
Actions speak louder than words.
Prospective major gift donors have been standing on go, eagerly awaiting the final vision before pledging their support, which should come swiftly.
Campaign funding many needs
The campaign is funding much more than football needs. The Seminole Golf course, which underwent a major Nicklaus Collegiate Signature design, received $4.775 million. Women’s softball was the recipient of $1.66 million in pledges, some used to enhance the fan experience by installing a shade structure over the grandstands. Donors pledged $1.428 million, of which $1.3 million enhanced the players’ locker room/lounge. Dick Howser Stadium was the recipient of new lighting, funded out of $1.667 million in gifts to baseball.
Donors made $5.56 million in unrestricted gifts to the endowed scholarship fund ($5.6 million), to fund operations ($16 million) and to other needs ($2.6 million). Seminole fans also made gifts to FSU’s future in their wills and estates with planned gifts of $24.4 million.
Baseball — $1,677,063.34
Basketball — $1,428,379.00
Football Operations — $38,340,653.47
Golf — $4,775,000.00
Planned Gift — $24,435,561.00
Renaissance Fund — $16,000,000.00
Scholarships — $5,616,420.70
Softball — $1,660,678.50
Unrestricted — $5,556,427.31
Other Capital Gifts — $2,600,000.00
Total to date — $102,090,183.32