Regents pick up ASU's stadium tab - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Regents pick up ASU's stadium tab

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April 17, 2008

Albany --  In a bailout for Albany State, the Board of Regents will help pay off their two million dollar stadium debt.   Retiring the debt will free up money to begin the design work for the Ray Charles Performing Arts and Academic Center this year.

The announcement is a relief to ASU students who were facing a fee increase to pay for the stadium debt.  

The remaining $2.2 million principal payment on the Albany State Stadium came due eight months ago. That's when it came to light that the school didn't have the money. Since then SunTrust Bank has been patient with ASU and Thursday President Dr. Everette Freeman announced ASU can finally pay the bill. 

"A month ago at the executive meeting of the Board of Regents the Board said, 'let's find a way to be helpful to you,' and they have."

Through a combination of money from the Board of Regents and the ASU budget they've come up with the $2.2 million needed to pay off the University Foundation's loan. That will scrap a proposed plan to raise student fees to pay off the debt.

 "It's definitely a burden lifted off of all of us. The fee increase was going to have an impact for sure," says ASU Student President Jazzmin Randall.

 Payment of the debt will also free up $1.1 million of the money Ray Charles donated for a Performing Arts and Academic Center. ASU was criticized for using that money for the stadium when Charles specifically dedicated it for the center. The Board of Regents said that money should be used to finally begin the building's design.

"The Board feels so strongly about the importance of that building for the future of the university that they just simply said we're going to find a way to help you begin the design this year," said Freeman.

Local legislators, who weren't able to convince the legislature to fund the project, say they've encouraged the Board of Regents to help Albany State.

"We just kind of talked to people and you know just use your abilities to just let people know what our issues are, what our concerns are, and asking for their help," says state Rep. Winfred Dukes of Albany. 

Now with this help they'll own their stadium and realize the vision Ray Charles had in 2001 and 2002 for a Performing Arts and Academic Center.

The Board of Regents also provided money for ASU to immediately begin developing a new master plan for the campus.

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