SBJ/October 24 - 30, 2005/Facilities

Bredar’s position at HNTB brings him back to where his love of college football started

Randy Bredar remembers feeling terrible that he wouldn’t be planning the renovation of the University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, where he saw his first college football game as a 7-year-old in 1966.

“It broke my heart,” said Bredar, a sports facility designer who was working for CDFM2 in 2003 when Iowa officials awarded the project to HNTB.

In the revolving-door world of sports architecture in Kansas City, though, Bredar found himself back in the Hawkeye State overseeing the $86.8 million Kinnick project after HNTB hired him in early 2004 to take charge of its sports practice.

“To have the opportunity to come back and inherit it was neat,” said Bredar, HNTB’s vice president of sports architecture.

Bredar grew up in Davenport, 60 miles from Iowa City, and his father, Herman, used to get tickets about once a year to attend an Iowa game. Herman Bredar is also a big Notre Dame fan, and one of his son’s first sports projects after joining Ellerbe Becket in 1991 was the renovation and expansion of Notre Dame Stadium.

“I grew up a Catholic kid, and we used to go to church at 9:30 on Sunday morning, and the priest would rush through the service because at 10 a.m., he had to be back to the rectory and we had to be back home to watch the Notre Dame reruns on TV with Lindsey Nelson,” Bredar said.

Hanging out at Kinnick as a youngster didn’t prevent Bredar from attending rival Iowa State, where he got a bachelor of arts degree in architecture. His first full-time job was designing corporate office buildings for a small Texas firm.

Bredar and his wife, Julie, wanted to move to the Midwest to start a family, and he got a job at Ellerbe Becket. They moved to Kansas City, the hub of sports architecture.

“The idea of being able to combine the two passions that I love into one thing where I get paid ... the light bulb really went on,” Bredar said. “I thought this was what I was supposed to be doing.”

Bredar and Tom Waggoner left Ellerbe in 2000 to start a boutique firm specializing in smaller college projects, and after struggling on their own for about six months, they hooked up with CDFM2 as that firm was expanding its market reach.

HNTB came calling 3 1/2 years later.

“It was pretty painful because I still remain really good friends with Tom Waggoner and Bill Johnson,” another CDFM2 associate, Bredar said. Waggoner and Johnson now work for 360 Architecture in Kansas City after CDFM2 merged with Heinlein Schrock Stearns last year.

Under Bredar’s watch, HNTB, the firm that started the specialization of sports venue design 40 years ago, has strengthened its grip in the college market. Michigan, Illinois and California selected HNTB in the past year to design improvements to their aging stadiums, and Akron hired the firm to study the feasibility of building a $60 million on-campus facility.

Bredar will be hands-on in designing the addition of premium seating at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, a tricky endeavor based on the desire of the alumni and the athletic department to keep the title of college football’s biggest venue.

He’s also busy trumpeting HNTB’s portfolio in Minneapolis as the architect competes for the job of designing a new on-campus stadium for the University of Minnesota, a project on hold pending the Legislature’s approval of public money to ensure the deal.

“The bar never stays put,” Bredar said. “It continues to move up in terms of facilities, revenue, how the two are connected and how they use the two to recruit student athletes and make that experience as rewarding as it can be.”

“The general perception is that’s the state of the art of what’s going on at collegiate football stadiums. But the reality is that state of the art is sitting on the drawing board in Kansas City.”

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