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Fewer seats could be in the cards at The Swamp as Florida evaluates stadium upgrades

Florida’s home stadium — The Swamp — is one of the loudest venues in the SEC and college football when things get cranked up and the Gators are rolling in the fall. If the place wants to maintain that sort of electric atmosphere however, they may need fans to get a little louder to make up for a potential reduced capacity at the place that is formally known as Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

That’s because a reduced capacity for the place is being explored as UF looks at their options for updating and renovating the place.

“There was a time when, probably when the north end zone (section) was done in the early ’90s, when seat count is all anyone cared about,” athletic director Scott Stricklin told the Associated Press last week. “Just cram as many people as possible in there. Obviously that is not (the case) when you talk to people who do facilities and stadiums these days.

“That’s not as important as quality and making sure you’re creating an environment that people want to come and participate in. The days of fans being OK sitting three hours on a piece of aluminum, I think, are gone. So we’ve got to find ways to upgrade the overall quality.”

Current capacity is just over 88,000 for The Swamp but it’s been 15 years since any work has been done on the stadium, which happened back in 2003 as part of a luxury suite expansion. It will still be some time before Florida even gets around to sprucing up the place and Stricklin seemed to indicate the timeline wouldn’t really start to get finalized until later this spring.

The Gators are currently in the middle of a $100 million facilities upgrade push, including $60 million of that total going toward a new football complex that is slated to open next summer. It seems addressing the aging issues at The Swamp are a bit further down the road but are not being forgotten as Stricklin and new coach Dan Mullen look to be overhauling the program from top to bottom in the coming years.