Georgia State University will spend $52.8 million to buy and redevelop Turner Field and nearby properties, with most of the money cobbled together from money saved from bookstore profits, building rentals, student housing payments and parking permit fees, under a plan approved unanimously by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents Wednesday.
It’s a major step forward in the school’s plan to convert the baseball stadium into a football stadium as part of a mixed-use development and campus expansion.
“I don’t know of any real estate project that we’ve studied longer or harder than this one,” Regent Philip Wilheit Sr. said before a preliminary vote on the plan. “It’s been a long drive but I think it’s a great project.”
The downtown university and a private development team led by Atlanta-based Carter came to terms in August to buy Turner Field for $30 million by the end of the year. Georgia State and its partners have proposed a $300 million development that includes turning The Ted into a new home for Panther football.
Most of the money — $26 million — would go toward stadium renovations to remake Turner Field into a 22,000-seat stadium. That work, which would take place in two phases, would include a new field, covering upper deck seating, reorienting lower bowl seating and upgrading locker rooms and other areas. Georgia State would also use $5 million in student tuition money to relocate its hospitality school into newly renovated space at the stadium.
Another $22.8 million would be used to purchase the stadium and surrounding parking lots.
The balance of the land slated to become part of the development that would include student and private housing, classrooms and retail space would be bought or leased by Carter.
Most of the $52.8 million approved Wednesday will come from Georgia State’s accumulated savings. That includes $15.5 million in accumulated payments from the school’s bookstore operator and $12 million in rental payments from university tenants and from film production companies, university officials said. It also includes about $10.3 million from student housing payments and other housing revenues and $4 million from parking permit fees.
About $5 million from student tuition payments will be spent on the relocation of the hospital school.
Georgia State will also spend about $2 million in fees from current students on the project. Part of athletics and commencement fees, for example, will be reallocated to the Turner Field project because the Georgia State will no longer need to spend that money to rent the Georgia Dome and other facilities for games and commencement, university officials said.
The school does not expect to add or raise student fees or parking permit costs in connection with the project, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Jerry Rackliffe said.
“We’re trying to be fiscally conservative and responsible to the state,” he said.
And about $5 million will come from Georgia State’s athletic association and from private donors.