Taking the Field in a Post-COVID World: Alternative Project Financing


  • Algen Williams, NCARB, AIA, LEED AP, National Sports Market Manager, JE Dunn Construction
  • Michael M. Collins, Managing Director, JE Dunn Capital Partners
  • Chip Howard, Executive Associate Athletics Director for Internal Affairs, University of Florida

Webinar Recap

Throughout this pandemic, we at LEAD1 Association (“LEAD1”) have tried to present to our member athletic departments a number of perspectives on various long-term planning ideas. While COVID-19 has been absolutely tragic, one of the silver linings, at least in discussion among some of our colleagues, has been this renewed commitment as an industry to innovate on a wide array of topics.

That is why, on Wednesday, LEAD1 hosted its latest webinar with JE Dunn Construction, a top national sports general contractor, to discuss alternative financing options for athletic department facilities. Of course, capital projects are such an enormous part of today’s college sports environment, so the purpose of the webinar was to provide LEAD1 athletic departments with possible strategies to employ to fund collegiate facilities. The panel featured one of LEAD1’s own, Chip Howard (Executive Associate AD for Internal Affairs; University of Florida), Algen Williams (National Sports Market Manager at JE Dunn Construction), and Michael Collins (Managing Director at JE Dunn Capital Partners).

The webinar is relevant for any LEAD1 athletic administrator interested in learning more about possible cost-effective financial and tax strategies. The first part of the webinar features Howard discussing traditional project progression using the University of Florida’s new $65 million Florida Ballpark as an example of general steps that can be taken with respect to completing capital projects – from the budgeting and fundraising stages to ultimate design and construction. Perhaps Howard’s most novel point is this concept of “value engineering” in which project performance requirements can be satisfied at lowest possible costs.

The second part features Williams and Collins discussing private sector funding options as applied to college athletic departments. While the model for funding athletic projects has remained largely unchanged for 50 years, there are alternative financing options like tax, tax-exempt or 501(c)(3) financing that could make sense for athletic departments to save major costs. While not all alternative financing solutions may work for every athletic department, the larger point is that there are companies like JE Dunn that can help discuss innovative solutions for capital projects, especially at a time when savings costs and strategic planning are paramount.

More can be found in the recording related to the various nuances of each alternative financing option.