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DSU requests state funds for stadium upgrades, new lab

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Delaware State University has a 400 acre campus off Route 13, but with a new downtown Dover campus and other acquisitions, the university is now poised to grow enrollment and services. | PHOTO COURTSEY OF DSU

DOVER — With plans to substantially grow enrollment in the years to come, Delaware State University is seeking state funds to upgrade its football stadium and transform the former Dover Library into a research lab.

In total, DSU requested $26.2 million capital improvement funding from the state, with two projects highlighted for construction funds. A request of $7 million would help the state’s lone historically Black university to add seats and amenities to the Alumni Stadium. 

The stadium, first opened in 1957, has roughly 7,100 seats in the stands around a football field and a running track. DSU President Tony Allen hopes to add another 400 seats, a hospitality club and premium suites, as well as other concessions for spectators.

“What you see is a beautiful field, but what you may not see is a state-of-the-art stadium and seating,” Allen told the committee on Thursday afternoon. “We believe athletics in many ways is the gateway to universities like ours, and so we want to build capacity to have a stadium that feels like the university that we are becoming.”

Allen and his administration have been bullish on growing the university in his two years as president, in terms of enrollment, space and in prestige. DSU has added a 50-acre campus in downtown Dover and recently cut the ribbon on a new Riverfront facility for its graduate and continuing education programs. In the fall of 2021, the university had an enrollment of 5,649 students.

DSU hopes to hit more than 10,000 students by 2030, and to accommodate the exponential growth, the university will need to add or renovate its existing space.

One such project includes turning the former Dover library into an interdisciplinary rehabilitation research center. Allen requested $3 million to fit out the space into a research lab and demonstration kitchen. The 18,000-square-foot former library used to belong to the former Wesley College, but has come into DSU ownership after it acquired the small private college.

The future lab would include kinesiology, exercise, physiology, rehab, injury prevention, some gait and movement analysis labs, and seven other research labs.

The bulk of DSU’s request in capital infrastructure funds was $15 million to address maintenance needs. DSU has $81 million in deferred maintenance. But since DSU acquired a 21-building second campus, it now has to address ADA compliance, fire codes and safety in some buildings as well as roof replacements.

“It’s still a big number for us. You’ll note … some of the investments we have made that are important to our overall growth, but we still have much work to do,” Allen added.

Finally, DSU also requested $1.2 million to start on technology improvements, such as increasing wireless access across campus, implementing a cloud server, upgrading the cybersecurity and the data center server. 

The total improvement costs is estimated at $15 million so the $1.2 million would be a fraction of the cost.

Gov. John Carney’s budget proposal allocated $15 million for DSU. However, the state anticipates it will see an estimated $800 million budget surplus this year while also retaining some federal COVID-19 relief funding.

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