It’s often said that you don’t learn much about a leader by how they handle success, but instead in how they handle when things don’t go their way. By all accounts, ADJD has handled both the good and the bad around TCU Athletics over his 18 month tenure with aplomb, navigating difficult situations with Jim Schlossnagle and Jamie Dixon as both looked at other opportunities, and inking several high-profile coaches to extensions.
But his biggest undertaking to date has been the $100 million East Side expansion, a project aimed at securing the loyalty and giving of the next generation of TCU donors, while also continuing to make the game day experience at Amon G Carter Stadium one of the best in the conference, if not the country. And now it has hit a second snag.
Initially slated to open on opening night, the new club seats, suites, and boxes were delayed by an especially wet winter, with a new target date set for October 26th - when the Frogs host the Longhorns (and fittingly, the football return to Fort Worth of former TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte, the man whom many credit with the bulk of the initial stadium redesign). But, it was announced Thursday evening that further setbacks have made that impossible. Donati took to twitter to express his regret and apologize to the people that made the expansion possible:
1/2 Earlier this afternoon we notified our stadium expansion donors of some unfortunate news - that we would not be able to access the new club and suites this season. While very disappointing, we wouldn’t be able to deliver a game day experience that our donors deserved...— Jeremiah Donati (@JDonati_TCU) July 26, 2019
2/2 We have spent the last few weeks looking at every option to access the space but ultimately we believed our donors deserved better. We are committed to delivering a world class experience for them! Thank you to all our supporters for your patience and understanding. #gofrogs— Jeremiah Donati (@JDonati_TCU) July 26, 2019
Donati did contact those that had purchased seats in the new area prior to tweeting.
Though certainly disappointing to those that ponied up the cash and will be minorly inconvenienced this fall, this clearly is the best, and safest decision, for TCU to make given the current progress of the expansion and the focus on overall experience of the athletics department. The delay will affect approximately 2,000 fans, who will be relocated to other areas of the stadium for the time being. Donati has been upfront and honest with the donors throughout the process, and announcing the delay more than a month before the start of the season is a classy move by the administration.
There is good news, though. The massive new video board that sits above the north end zone will be ready for action when the Frogs open their season against Arkansas Pine Bluff on August 31st - and no one is more excited about that than head coach Gary Patterson:
You know he will be watching game film on it to get ready for week one.
Earlier this month, Donati announced that he will be sharing one exciting upgrade to the game-day experience each day, beginning on August 1st. So while July brought some downer information, August promises to be full of excitement and good news.