SBJ/Feb. 3-9, 2014/Colleges

ND renovation goes beyond athletics

Tradition-rich Notre Dame is taking its most progressive step into the future, tied to an extensive $400 million renovation of its football stadium.

The Campus Crossroads Project, the official name of the stadium expansion, stands out for meeting the needs of students and academics as much as Notre Dame’s football program, according to Nate Appleman, a principal with 360 Architecture and the project’s sports consultant.

The $400M project includes classroom, event space along with new premium seating.
Photo by: UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
Texas, Florida State and Michigan State have all folded academic and administrative facilities into their football stadiums but those additions have been phased in over time, Appleman said.

By comparison, from the start of this project, Notre Dame is developing flexibility into its new premium spaces by designing classroom spaces along the east sideline and a 10,000-square-foot ballroom along the west sideline for student functions such as dormitory dances, he said.

“The critical piece for Notre Dame is the school didn’t want it to just be a premium-seat addition and sit idle the rest of the year after football season,” Appleman said.

The project calls for building 3,000 to 4,000 new premium seats across three levels on the stadium’s east and west sides. An indoor club behind the south end zone will be marketed as a high-end tailgating experience starting with breakfast on game days.

The idea is for patrons to reserve a table in the south club and have the freedom to walk outside the stadium to enjoy the Saturday morning rituals on campus tied to football before coming back for a pregame meal and watching the game from their outdoor seats, Appleman said.

Notre Dame officials visited football stadiums at Alabama and Texas to get ideas for club seats and loge boxes, said Rob Kelly, the school’s assistant athletic director for ticketing and technology. No suites are planned for the expansion.

The $280 million renovation of the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium, a 360 project, has also served as a model for what Notre Dame can do to develop a loge box product, Appleman said.

In addition, ND officials visited Lambeau Field in Green Bay, an NFL stadium that has mostly bench seating and a seating bowl similar to Notre Dame’s. The school showed interest in Lambeau’s renovations over the past 10 years, which have turned it into a year-round operation, Kelly said.

For best practices on wireless technology, they toured Sporting Park in Kansas City and AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where the Fighting Irish played Arizona State this past season, Kelly said.

Included in the project is improved connectivity in and around Notre Dame Stadium. The school’s vice president of information technology, Ron Kraemer, will oversee the installation of Wi-Fi.

“We currently seat about 81,000 people, and on game day there’s probably more than 100,000 people on campus,” school spokesman Dennis Brown said. “It’s difficult to even make a phone call, much less do all the things that people want to do on their smartphone. It’s a very big need for us.”

A new scoreboard is planned for the south end zone but school officials have not decided whether it will include video replay, according to the project’s website. Notre Dame Stadium does not have a video replay board.

One thing fans will not see at Notre Dame Stadium is advertising signs now common at college football facilities.

“The need to balance tradition is a discussion that’s held frequently at the highest levels,” Brown said. “We’ve resisted advertising in the stadium, and there are no plans to start. Whether or not a video board becomes part of the plans, we’ll have to see.”

The project is expected to be completed for the 2017 season. Barton Malow is the general contractor.

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