SBJ/June 20 - 26, 2005/Facilities

Stanford picks $85M refurb over sports firms’ higher estimates

Stanford University boasts a well-heeled alumni base from having one of the nation’s top academic institutions, but the school refuses to dig too deeply into donors’ pockets to pay for renovating Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.

The $85 million price tag for the privately financed project is relatively modest compared with estimates provided by four nationally known sports facility designers five years ago that priced the project at $150 million to $200 million, according to Ray Purpur, Stanford associate athletic director.

Stanford wants to demolish and rebuild the seating bowl and reduce capacity by about 35,000 seats.

School officials bypassed designers more well-versed in sports venue design in favor of hiring Hoover and Associates, a local architect that hasn’t done stadium work but did plan $30 million worth of improvements for the university’s Maples Pavilion basketball arena, Purpur said.

Stanford picked Hoover and Associates to redo the seating bowl at Stanford Stadium.
Stanford solicited proposals in 2000 from Ellerbe Becket, HNTB, HOK Sport and NBBJ for improving the 84-year-old stadium. Officials thought the firms’ construction estimates and the fees they were charging were too much for a facility with an annual event schedule limited to six football games and commencement ceremonies, Purpur said.

“We’re paying our local firm a heck of a lot less,” he said. “We’ve got some internal constraints and wanted to be able to keep it under the $100 million range. We didn’t think we’d get a project [of $100 million-plus] approved by our trustees.”

Hoover is designing a refurbished stadium that would be reduced from 85,500 seats to 50,026 seats and put chairbacks on 13,928 seats. Stanford is negotiating with suppliers Southern Bleacher Co. and Dant Clayton to install bench seating and keep the project within budget, Purpur said.

The chairback style is similar to SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, he said. Southern Bleacher manufactured and installed the 32,000 seats at the Ellerbe Becket-designed facility.

Premium seating will be minimal in the new Stanford Stadium, limited to 381 donor seats, five private boxes and a large club area with room for 450, “for when people such as [former school chancellor] Condi Rice come back to town,” Purpur said.

Construction starts after the 2005 season. Stanford expects to play its 2006 home games at San Jose State University’s Spartan Stadium. Anne Palmer, the stadium manager, was unavailable to comment on the negotiations with Stanford.

VEGAS PER CAP: Thomas and Mack Arena’s in-house concessions department posted a $9.25 food and drink per cap for ArenaBowl XIX in Las Vegas, generating just more than $72,000 in revenue for the building, said Daren Libonati, the arena’s director.

The numbers were about $2 higher than the per cap for an AFL Las Vegas Gladiators game and $3 to $4 more per head than a UNLV men’s basketball game, he said.

The arena was in operation for about five and a half hours for the event, opening the doors at 10:30 a.m. for a noon Pacific time kickoff. The championship trophy presentation and postgame Kool and the Gang performance extended the event to about 4 p.m., Libonati said.

“The bottom line was we had a longer window of opportunity to sell,” he said.

MIXING IN MOTOWN: Delaware North plans to celebrate its 75-year presence in Major League Baseball and 90 years in the concessions business by inviting representatives from Sportservice’s nine MLB accounts and the company’s other food service divisions to the All-Star Game in Detroit, said Peter Hassen, Delaware North’s senior manager of media relations/corporate communications.

About 100 people have been invited to attend the three days of All-Star-related events July 10-12 at Comerica Park, including a two-hour reception the night of the game in the Tiger Club’s cigar bar on the ballpark’s second level, overlooking the front of the stadium.

Sportservice signed its first professional baseball deal in 1930 at Tiger Stadium and has held the contract there for 73 years. The Detroit Tigers operated the concessions in-house the first two seasons at Comerica Park in 2000 and 2001 and rehired Sportservice in 2002.

“We thought it was very appropriate to recognize both anniversaries at the All-Star Game,” said Wendy Watkins, Delaware North’s vice president of global corporate communications and public relations.n

Don Muret can be reached at

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