Texas A&M’s Kyle Field expanding to hold 102,500

You can call it “The House That Johnny Football Built” when Texas A&M finishes expanding Kyle Field to 102,500 seats, making it the biggest stadium in the SEC.

Except that renewed excitement in A&M football happened long before anyone knew that Johnny Manziel would take college football by storm.

The surge in enthusiasm for A&M football came when the Aggies decided to leave the Big 12 and join the Southeastern Conference. The Aggies have supported that move with their pocketbook and their presence at games.

Soon, they will have a football palace to reflect that fervor.

In 2011, A&M’s final year in the Big 12, Kyle Field was sold out for every home game for the first time.

Last season, season tickets were sold out in late March, the earliest that mark had been achieved.

So when Texas A&M officials announced Wednesday that Kyle Field will be remade into a bigger, better version, the reaction is almost a “What took you so long?”

The project will cost a projected $450 million, which is hefty for any university. But if things keep going in the current direction, and the SEC continues to dominate college football, the price tag for making Kyle Field bigger and better will be money well spent.

The stadium won’t just be bigger. It will be the biggest in the SEC. Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium currently holds that title with 102,455 seats.

Perhaps more importantly, it will be the biggest stadium in Texas. At least until either the University of Texas or Jerry Jones tries to one-up the Aggies. The Longhorns’ house seats 100,119. Cowboys Stadium has held as many as 105,000 for special games, but the official capacity is 80,000.

Can the Aggies fill a 102,500 seat stadium? You bet.

Yes, there were times when Kyle Field struggled to sell out at its current capacity of 82,589. But that was a different era. The current era is one of unbridled optimism for Texas A&M football. The Aggies have shown, even after raising ticket prices, that if you give them a good product they will support it.

Now that A&M is in the SEC, it’s also a pride factor to support your school. The only thing worse than losing in the SEC is not showing up for your games.

The new Kyle Field will look almost completely different, symbolizing the new era. It will have a new façade, wider concourses, new suites and club areas – all the latest amenities.

“As we have seen with Texas A&M’s transition into the Southeastern Conference, athletics can play a key role in increasing the visibility of the entire university,” said Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin in the school’s official release. “The Kyle Field project is yet another element of enhancing Texas A&M’s profile.”

The Aggies proved last season that they can compete in the SEC. Now they’re going to show that the only Texas school in the SEC can spend money like rich Texans.

The stadium expansion will be paid for through donations, seat licenses, student fees and a hotel tax. And the money will be spent without a second thought. That’s just how it’s done in Texas.

The construction will take place in phases, but the final product will be ready to unveil for the 2015 season. It should be the envy of every school in the SEC, if not the nation.

The truth is, Kyle Field was probably due for a remodeling long before Texas A&M joined the SEC. But running with the fast crowd in the SEC has no doubt ramped up the process, along with the expectations.

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire