“It’s a nightmare,” one Rutgers insider told Gannett reporter Christine Sparta. She also reports this: “‘The stadium is way behind schedule. The stadium is supposed to be completed by September 2009, and they haven’t laid down a brick yet,’ said another insider who speculated about a hefty $150 million price tag.” And there has been no progress in raising the $30 million in private funding needed for the expansion when the budget was a more modest $100+ million. Upsizing that private contribution target to try to balance this budgetary mess would make as much sense as balancing a household budget on the assumption of a Megamillions win. Rutgers football fans just have not opened their wallets to support this project — presumably because (although they can be vocal in their vapidity) there just aren’t very many diehards.
The state is plummeting into a deep recession. Rutgers football is an unproven attraction (will fans use $4/gallon gasoline to drive to see the Scarlet Knights, a second-tier football team on its better days?). The coach has a lifetime losing record. Construction costs — for materials primarily — are multiplying. New Jersey’s public budget is in chaos. What started as a risky, speculative deal a year ago, now — clearly — is a sucker’s play. Of course the university’s powers — Slick McCormick, Sweaty Mulcahy III — insist the expansion will go ahead, albeit in a “scaled down” version. Right.
What they don’t tell us is in what century this expansion will occur. It likely won’t be this one. We know that much.
It’s time to officially declare the Rutgers football fantasy over and done.
Even fans of the expansion are squabbling as blaming fingers begin to point and the hunt commences for a fall guy (Mulcahy III, is that a bullseye on your back?). Gov. Seatbelt Corzine is telling people he hears even the Phase I expansion — luxury boxes — won’t be ready at the season’s start. Mulcahy III disagrees. Or so reports the Ledger.
Newspapers across the country are diving on this story. As word percolates among Rutgers football’s recent commits, how fast do you think they will begin to decommit? Frankly, they would be crazy not to open their ears to recruiters from other programs because the message is clear: the Rutgers bigtime sports bubble is bursting.
* Sweaty Mulcahy III, at 70 years of age, soon will announce his retirement. He reportedly was booted out of a job before (as CEO of the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority). He knows how to make an exit.
* Phase II of the stadium expansion will be postponed “indefinitely”
* Together, those steps will represent a de facto downgrading of the Rutgers football program.
We’ll cheer all of that! In fact our party mood is so festive we just may crack open a keg at the Rutgers 1000 world headquarters and break into singing On the Banks!