The Univ. of Notre Dame yesterday announced that it will move ahead with its $400M Campus Crossroads project to "add three academic and student life buildings on the exterior of Notre Dame Stadium," according to a front-page piece by Margaret Fosmoe of the SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE. The renovation will mark "the most expensive construction project in the university's history." The project's buildings will total "750,000 square feet ... with premium seating for fans and outdoor terraces overlooking the football field on the top floors of both the east and west buildings." A variety of "premium seating options -- both indoor and outdoor, and mostly club-style -- will be available on three upper levels on both sides," and a hospitality area also is "planned for the new building on the south end of the stadium." All three buildings "will be attached to the football stadium." School President John Jenkins "vows to retain the atmosphere and traditional feel inside the stadium." This is "only the second major change to the stadium since it was built."
DEAL DETAILS: The project includes a "nine-story student center/student life building on the west side, where the press box now stands." The existing press box "will be renovated into a premium seating area." The student center "will include meeting rooms, student lounges, a dining area, student organization space, administrative offices, a career services center, a 500-seat ballroom, club seating for football and booths for NBC Sports." The upper floors also "will contain boxes for home and visiting coaches, security booths, and boxes for administrative and athletic department leaders." The project includes a "nine-story anthropology/psychology/digital media center" that will be constructed on the east side. The upper floors "will contain the stadium press box, outdoor club seating for football fans, outdoor terraces, and a large space that will double as a club area and a flexible classroom, and radio booths." Jenkins said that the interior of the stadium and the football field itself "aren’t expected to be significantly altered by the project." The project "may result in an increase of 3,000 to 4,000 seats in the stadium, increasing the total current capacity of 80,795." However, Notre Dame VP/Public Affairs & Communications Paul Browne said that the improvements "may slightly reduce the seating capacity in the current seating bowl of the stadium, so a total new capacity figure isn’t yet determined" (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 1/30). Jenkins said that he "expects construction will begin in one or two years and will last about 33 months as the three buildings are constructed simultaneously." The project "will be funded by private donors and bonds." In Chicago, Jodi Cohen notes school policy "requires that a certain percentage of the total cost must be in hand before breaking ground," and about $120M "will be financed by the sale of bonds" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/30).
VYING FOR VIDEOBOARDS: In South Bend, Eric Hansen notes Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly and AD Jack Swarbrick "have pushed for the addition of the video boards at Notre Dame Stadium, but there has been plenty of pushback." Jenkins said, "If you look at many pro stadiums with the big video boards, they look like a circus. They just don’t have that traditional feel, and we don’t want to lose that." Jenkins said that the desire to "have better access to data and video while attending games could be addressed through enhanced broadband connectivity in the stadium and some by the introduction of video" (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 1/30).