FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – The University of North Alabama is continuing to grow its athletic department, this time with a new multi-purpose football stadium.

UNA officials announced Friday that the University Board of Trustees unanimously approved an on-campus, multipurpose stadium project, to be named Bank Independent Stadium, and authorized next steps for the venue’s design and planning process.

Will Tapp, the President Pro Tempore of the Board, says the move is yet another milestone in the growth of the school’s athletic department.

“As a member of the Board who voted to accept the ASUN Conference invitation and move to Division I athletics, it is certainly a milestone for us to be announcing this project,” said Trapp “In many ways, our step up into this higher level of competition was a leap of faith. We held a collective belief that it would be beneficial to the University and the community, but we all knew at some point there would need to be greater investment in facilities if we were going to build on this move.”

School officials say that the main funding for the project will come from external fundraising.

The location of the stadium will impact areas that are currently used by UNA Baseball, UNA Soccer and UNA Football. The school says each of these programs will be factored into the new stadium’s design.

Additionally, school officials say the new stadium will allow the University to host non-sporting events such as concerts, live performances and other academic events.

After the vote Friday, a design process for the stadium will begin and take 12-18 months following the design the school’s timeline says the stadium could open in 2026 or 2027 depending on construction time.

News 19 will continue to provide updates throughout the construction of the new stadium.