LINCOLN — The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's big plan for its Big Ten future could call for a lot more grass and a lot fewer cars.

One highlight of a proposed new master plan for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

The parking lot east of Memorial Stadium — site of coveted tailgating parking spaces on Husker game days — would be converted into a broad swath of lawn linked with a new College of Business Administration, proposed for a site two blocks to the east.

Football boosters need not worry, said Gina Ford, landscape principal for Sasaki Associates, a Massachusetts-based firm hired to develop UNL's new master plan. As proposed, the “Memorial Mall” would be reinforced to allow game day parking on the grass.

“The boosters are there,” she said. “The university would never let us do otherwise.”

Hired in June for $754,000, Sasaki Associates is reaching the final stages of developing a master plan and landscaping plan for UNL for the next 15-plus years. Ford and three members of the Sasaki design team are visiting campus this week to reveal some of the details of an effort they've dubbed “Plan Big.”

On Tuesday, they hosted an open house and delivered a lecture on the downtown campus. Another open house is set for today at the East Campus student union.

UNL's existing master plan, developed in 2006, was supposed to remain in place until 2016, but Chancellor Harvey Perlman decided to update it sooner after UNL joined the Big Ten in 2010.

Sasaki has done similar work for Ohio State University, the University of Iowa and Utah State University, Ford said.

After joining the Big Ten, Perlman announced a plan to increase UNL enrollment to 30,000 students — an increase of more than 5,000.

That's a challenge for planners, Ford said.

“You need to grow the program, to grow the facilities, to be the world-class institution that Big Ten membership implies,” Ford said.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9581, leslie.reed@owh.com

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