At Thursday’s Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for an expanded East Stadium, Shawn Eichorst praised “the foresight, passion and vision” of UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman and former Nebraska Coach/AD Tom Osborne, plus the generous support of donors who have helped create a state-of-the-art research collaboration facility that Nebraska’s director of athletics believes “has put this university at the forefront of progress.”
“This project has always been about more than football,” Eichorst said, pointing out that the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, along with the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory, are “critical in our continued pursuit of excellence and in improving the experiences of all our students." The research centers will use more than a combined 52,000 square feet inside the newly expanded East Stadium to create an unprecedented partnership of academics and athletics.
Perlman, Osborne and Eichorst joined University of Nebraska system president James B. Milliken, Governor Dave Heineman, Regent Tim Clare and John Sampson, president of Sampson Construction, for the ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the front entrance of historic Gate 20, an important part of Memorial Stadium’s 90th anniversary celebration. “For nine decades, Memorial Stadium has been the epicenter of the Big Red community of fans that number in the millions around the globe,” Eichorst said, adding that 521 games have been played inside the storied stadium and the Huskers have won an impressive 75 percent of those games. Over the last 50 years, Nebraska has the best winning percentage in college football at 79 percent.
“We are blessed to have the best collegiate football fans in the country,” Eichorst said, “and in nine days, we will celebrate our 326th consecutive sellout. With this stadium addition, we have added 6,000 seats, increasing our attendance to more than 91,000. As a result of our expansion, we are able to offer new non-premium season tickets between the 20-yard lines to the general public for the first time since Memorial Stadium opened in 1923.” Eichorst thanked and recognized what he described as the most generous donors for the expanded East Stadium project: Robert and Karla Baltzell, the Cassling Family Foundation, Mark and Debra Classen, the Peter Kiewit Foundation, Jim and Karen Linder, Rodney and Annette Markin family, the Walter and Suzanne Scott Foundation and Jan and Ernie Thayer and family.
Perlman said “no one has played a more vital and more varied role in creating this building than Tom Osborne – first by building on Bob Devaney’s success in creating a successful football program and then as athletic director, conceiving and advocating for this expansion and promoting the research collaboration it contains.”
Even with new facilities, Osborne pointed out that success almost always comes down to people. He praised the hiring of Dennis Molfese to direct the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior and Judy Burnfield to direct the Nebraska Performance Laboratory. Both "have already attracted people from all over the world who want to come here and work," Osborne said, adding that the the new research centers strengthen and reinforce three of the most important factors that parents consider when their children are recruited – academics, health and safety and performance.