The $15 million request for Bragg Stadium was withdrawn

Tallahassee Democrat

Two days after Florida A&M University announced it received an eye-popping $237 million donation, President Larry Robinson notified the Blueprint board that the university was no longer interested in pursuing $15 million in additional funding for Bragg Stadium improvements.
The Blueprint board, made up of all 12 city and county commissioners, approved $10 million for major renovations to FAMU’s football stadium in 2020.
Last year, FAMU asked Blueprint for $15 million more for Bragg improvements.
Robinson, in a Monday letter to Leon County Commissioner Carolyn Cummings, who chairs the Blueprint board, thanked the agency for the $10 million and consideration of the additional $15 million.
“However, at this time we are withdrawing our request for additional assistance from the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency for Bragg Memorial Stadium,” Robinson wrote in the letter obtained by the Democrat.
“We look forward to continuing to work with you, the Blueprint Board of Directors and Blueprint staff in other ways going forward.”
It’s unclear whether FAMU’s decision to backtrack on its most recent Blueprint request was directly related to Gerami’s would-be donation.
A FAMU spokesperson was not available for comment on late Thursday on whether the now-paused donation would prompt the university to reconsider its abandoned request for $15 million in Blueprint funds.

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President Larry Robinson informed the Blueprint board two days after Florida A&M University revealed it had received an astounding $237 million donation, stating the university was no longer looking to raise an additional $15 million for improvements to Bragg Stadium.

Major renovations to FAMU’s football stadium, estimated to cost $10 million, were approved by the Blueprint board, which consists of all 12 county and city commissioners in 2020. It was unclear at the time if home games would be played at the stadium in 2021 due to its extreme state of disrepair.

FAMU requested $15 million more in funding from Blueprint for Bragg upgrades last year. Although the board decided to investigate using economic development funds rather than infrastructure dollars for the project, it rejected the university’s request for immediate funding in February.

Robinson thanked the agency for the $10 million and mentioned the additional $15 million in a letter sent on Monday to Leon County Commissioner Carolyn Cummings, who is in charge of the Blueprint board.

Nevertheless, Robinson stated in the letter that the Democrat was able to obtain, “At this point we are withdrawing our request for additional assistance from the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency for Bragg Memorial Stadium.”. “We are eager to collaborate in the future in other ways with you, the Blueprint Board of Directors, and Blueprint employees. ****.

The correspondence was dated two days subsequent to FAMU’s spring commencement ceremony and the unexpected declaration of Gregory Gerami’s alleged nine-figure stock contribution. Gerami is the CEO of Batterson Farms Corp, a relatively unknown hemp enterprise situated in Austin, Texas. For FAMU, or any historically Black college or university, the gift would have been the largest ever.

However, in response to growing concerns, FAMU suspended Gerami’s donation on Thursday. Reports from the Myrtle Beach Sun News state that Gerami has a history of making philanthropic overtures to other universities that never came to pass, including Coastal Carolina University and the University of Texas at Austin.

FAMU’s decision to withdraw its most recent Blueprint request may or may not have been influenced by Gerami’s potential donation. At least $100 million was to be donated to FAMU athletics, according to the terms of the gift agreement between Gerami and the Isaac Batterson Family 7th Trust.

When asked whether the now-paused donation would cause the university to reevaluate its canceled request for $15 million in Blueprint funds, a FAMU representative was unavailable for comment late on Thursday.

Reach Jeff Burlew by phone at 850-599-2180 or via email at jburlew@tallahassee.com.

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