A six-month study will begin in the next few weeks that will help decide the future of renovations for Texas A&M's aging football home.
At a speech Wednesday at the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce's annual Economic Outlook Conference, A&M President R. Bowen Loftin said the study will look at a wide spectrum of options for Kyle Field, which has major sections that are 90 years old.
Loftin told the room of business leaders that key local stakeholders would be consulted as part of the study, this as fears mount in the business community that A&M football games would move to another city -- possibly Houston -- as Kyle gets a makeover.
"We are very sensitive to this community's impact that might arise from some changes at Kyle Field and construction issues that might arise from any changes we make," Loftin said.
A&M is coming off a season with 87,000 packing Kyle on average and has a move to the Southeastern Conference starting next season.
After the study, Loftin said the university would make a "rational decision" about Kyle.
"I just ask for your patience as we go forward in a very consultative, but systematic and deliberative way in making a determination of what exactly is the best way to improve Kyle Field will be," he said.
A&M Director of Athletics Bill Byrne gave the keynote address at the Chamber's conference later in the day, discussing Aggie Athletics' economic impact on the region. Adding to Loftin's earlier discussion, Byrne confirmed the earliest renovations could begin on Kyle would be following the 2013 season, but that there was no timeline at this point.
Byrne also said adding seating capacity would probably happen as part of any renovations. Design firms are set to be interviewed for drawing designs for potential renovations, but no A&M-commissioned drawings currently exist.
News 3 has learned that earlier this week, top A&M officials met with representatives of the Chamber, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and other local leaders to discuss Kyle's future, one of a number of meetings that has taken place in recent weeks.
As for moving games out of town for a season, Byrne sought to dampen down those fears.
"All things are on the table, but really suspect leaving College Station would be way, way down as far as any priorities go," Byrne said. "We need to fix Kyle Field. We do it the right way, but we have no intention of doing anything that would have an economic detriment to the community. We're in this together."
Loftin did not address whether building a completely new stadium was a heavily-weighed option, but Byrne tells News 3 he does not believe that would be a cost-effective step.
That would leave a renovation of the current stadium that would allow for games to continue to be played at Kyle over the length of the construction.
Loftin's speech was added to the Chamber event because of "growing business and community concerns regarding the suggested Kyle Field renovations," according to a press release for the event.
Julie Schultz is a local business owner and a College Station city councilmember who says since all options are on the table, there will be some level of trepidation with business leaders.
"I imagine there will be a storm brewing up until they get some confirmation going forward that they're not moving the games," Schultz said. "People will be nervous and upset."
But Dena Gaskin with the Chamber said recent meetings have helped to alleviate fears somewhat.
"At this point, we're pretty confident to think that it's a last resort," she said, "and that's straight from the top, so it's not just speculation on our part."
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