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Volume 20 No. 42


The north end zone expansion will add premium seating and a home for football offices.


Arizona Stadium
Built: 1928
Project cost: $72 million
Renovation designer: Heery
Last major renovation: 1989

Where it stands: Construction is halfway complete for the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility in the north end zone, which will add about 575 premium seats, distributed among club boxes and traditional outdoor club seats. In addition, new concessions and restrooms as part of the north end zone expansion will improve the game-day experience, said Athletic Director Greg Byrne.

When the project is completed, fixed seating will remain at 57,000. The four-story building will house coaches offices, locker rooms, a weight room, players lounge, a public cafeteria, and facilities for medical and television production.

“We are the last BCS program that had its football operations in the basketball arena,” Byrne said.

At the request of new coach Rich Rodriguez, the school also plans to install artificial turf for next season at a cost of $3 million.

Premium seat details: The club boxes seat two and four people and have movable chairs and small TVs. As of mid-September, school officials were still adjusting the number of seats and had not established prices.

Financing: The project is named for two donors providing a combined $23 million to help finance construction. Donations, in addition to $60 million in bonds and revenue generated by the new Pac-12 Networks, are funding the expansion. Up to $1.8 million a year in television income can be used to pay stadium debt, Byrne said.

Some wanted to rebuild at another site, but Cal chose to address earthquake safety issues and refurbish its historic stadium at its original site on the Hayward Fault.

When the University of California began to look at rebuilding Memorial Stadium, no one expected a quick, easy project. The stadium sat on the Hayward Fault in an active earthquake zone, and had gone without major improvements since it opened in 1923.

And the 10-year journey from conception to completion didn’t disappoint. The $321 million project produced a series of obstacles that the school had to overcome, some 70 feet high among the campus treetops, where a lengthy tree sitters’ protest next to the stadium drew international attention.

“The shortest piece was the 21-month construction,” said Bob Milano Jr., Cal’s assistant athletic director of capital planning and management.

Three new clubs are stacked on the west side; the University Club deck (right) offers a picturesque exterior view.

In the end, Cal got what it wanted: It addressed the seismic safety issue through the upgrade, while providing a more enjoyable experience for fans. Building a true concourse with permanent concessions and restrooms finally brought the stadium up to date with other college football venues.

Upgrading those features alone was a vast improvement over the old stadium, where makeshift food stands could do little more than offer popcorn and lemonade. The toilets, mostly designed for men, had old wood partitions and low ceilings and were “awful,” said HNTB’s Joe Diesko, the project architect.

The old hallways around the stadium’s classic coliseum-style bowl were a scant 11 feet wide and “to call it a concourse was giving it too much credit,” Diesko said.

HNTB’s design called for gutting most of the stadium, lowering the field an average of four feet and creating a field wall to provide clear sight lines for those sitting closest to the field. In the old setup, about 4,000 fans sitting in the first eight to 10 rows along the sidelines could not see the game with players standing in front of them. Total seating has been reduced to about 63,000 from the stadium’s original 70,000 seats.

For players on the field, it “feels more big time, like you’re on stage … because you’re not at the same level as the fans,” Diesko said. “I don’t have a definition for what that means, but it’s definitely there.”

Developing accessible seating for wheelchair patrons was another important piece of the renovation after alumni informed Cal officials through focus groups that many of them could not attend games anymore because it was too difficult to navigate the stadium, Diesko said.


Memorial Stadium
Built: 1923
Project cost: $321 million
Renovation designer: HNTB
Last major renovation: N/A

What’s new: Suites, viewed as a symbol of elitism in the liberal bastion of Berkeley, were not part of the stadium retrofit at a school known as the “people’s university,” said project architect Joe Diesko of HNTB. Even the club seats were designed as part of the seating bowl without being obtrusive. “Our focus groups and research spoke very clearly about that,” said Bob Milano Jr., Cal assistant athletic director. “Those interested in buying club seats wanted to sit outdoors and in large groups.” The seats are centered on the 50- yard line.

Premium seat details: 2,878 club seats, about $2,750 to $15,400 annually; the school had sold 1,745 through the end of June, according to the athletics website.

Financing: The school initially sold bonds to finance the project, with debt service to be paid through revenue from seat licenses (some paid over 30 years), general ticket sales, concessions, philanthropic gifts and TV deals.

The three new clubs stacked on the stadium’s west side are tied to a long-term seat license program to finance construction (see box).

The stadium’s west wall was opened with arches built into the old facade to provide views over campus to the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. Fans could never enjoy those views before the renovation. Now, “people can’t believe they are in the same place,” Diesko said.

Early in the process, there were concerns over whether the stadium should be rebuilt on the fault line. Internally, some Cal faculty wondered whether it made better sense for the university to build another stadium at a new location, Milano said.

Complicating matters was the stadium’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, giving fuel to critics of the project who said the renovation would ruin the building, he said.

The city piled on with lawsuits filed over the project’s Environmental Impact Review, a document required for all new construction in California. Not to be outdone, the tree sitters delayed the project’s first phase by almost two years. A group of preservationists protested the removal of an oak grove to build the Simpson Center for Student Athlete High Performance next to the stadium. Hundreds of people lived in the trees from December 2006 until September 2008, when the few remaining protesters were removed from their roost.

During that time, the country fell into a recession. Construction prices dropped by 20 percent to 25 percent as contractors hungry for work gave bids far below estimates, Diesko said. As a result, officials got more bang for the buck in building the $15 million training center.

“The tree sitters actually helped the project,” he said. “There would have been chunks of that building unfinished and awaiting other funds as they might get donated.”

Work is starting on the west side of the stadium, where new premium seating will go in. At left are renderings of loge level views of the club and the field.
Photos by: AECOM / HEERY DESIGN (2)

Kansas State

Bill Snyder Family Stadium
Built: 1968
Project cost: $75 million
Renovation designers: AECOM, Heery
Last major renovation: 1999

Where it stands: Steel will start going up in the next few weeks for the West Stadium Center, which will add 40 suites, 700 club seats and 36 loge boxes to the facility. “We are making great progress one year out,” said Laird Veatch, Kansas State’s senior associate athletic director of strategic initiatives. The new center will also feature a team store, new concessions and restrooms, a large outdoor party deck for high-end donors and an athletics dining hall.

Premium seat details: Suites (12 to 20 seats) $45,000 to $75,000 annually; sold out since January. Club seats $6,000 annually ($700 for tickets, food and parking; $5,300 for two annual gifts); about half sold. Loge seats $7,250 a seat annually, split among tickets, food and parking, and a $3,000 annual gift; 100 of 140 seats are sold. All premium seats sold as all-inclusive packages, alcohol not included. Club seat and loge box holders must give one-time construction gifts of $15,000 to $40,000.

Financing: $20 million in lead capital gifts paid over five years; $25 million in construction gifts paid over five years, tied to purchase of premium seating; debt service funded by annual gifts of $30 million tied to premium seating, budgeted at $3 million annually.

Concrete foundations and steel are in place for the expansion on the stadium’s east side.
Photos by: HNTB


Memorial Stadium
Built: 1923
Project cost: $63.5 million
Renovation designers: HNTB, The Clark Enersen Partners
Last major renovation: 2006

Where it stands: Steel and concrete foundations are in place for an expansion to the east side that will boost total seating to 90,000 by adding 38 suites, 2,115 outdoor club seats and 3,374 reserved seats. All told, revenue from new premium seats and reserved seats will generate $9 million annually for athletics. The new structure will have two floors of research space with 25,000 square feet devoted to Nebraska leading the Big Ten Conference’s effort to study links between football players’ concussions and brain injuries, said John Ingram, the school’s associate athletic director for capital planning and construction.

Premium seat details: Five super suites (24 seats each) centered on 50-yard line tied to a one-time gift of $2.5 million and exclusive use of the suite for 25 years; nine suites (24 seats each) two levels above $90,000 a year for 10 years; 24 suites (14 seats) $50,000 a year for 10 years. All suites sold out. Club seats $1,500 to $2,500 annual donation plus $392 season tickets. Sales start in five weeks. (“We have a wait list that leads us to believe they will easily sell out,” said Paul Meyers, associate athletic director for the Huskers Athletic Fund.) Food, drink and parking are additional fees. Reserved seats $150 minimum annual donation plus $392 season tickets.

Financing: In a testament to the power of Big Red, the project has already been paid off through previous contributions, Meyers said.


Take a peek inside the Founders Club at Amon G. Carter Stadium to get the big picture of Texas Christian University’s unique funding model for facility renovation.

The stately club, one of the most luxurious in college football, is reserved for the group of six donors who all committed $15 million over the next five years to help fund construction. Their total contributions of $90 million are paying for the majority of the $164 million project.


A look into the features and funding of other rebuilding projects on campus.

Memorial Stadium

Arizona Stadium

Kansas State
Bill Snyder Family Stadium

Memorial Stadium

Husky Stadium

Washington State
Martin Stadium

In return, TCU built an entire suite level for them at midfield, 21 rows from the field on the stadium’s west side. The 6,400-square-foot lounge supporting the suites has a fireplace and a large replica of Frederic Remington’s “A Dash for the Timber” behind the main bar.

The founders had the freedom to select the finishes and decor of their own suites with 24 fixed seats and 22 bar stools. A cowhide-covered foot rest, the centerpiece of one unit, speaks to both a level of comfort and the city’s western heritage. After all, it’s their home on football Saturdays for the next 30 years, per their deals.

“There is nothing nicer in America,” said TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte. “This is their living room, their space.”

The funding model arose after TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. issued a mandate for the 9,500-student private school to fund the renovation without being responsible for the debt tied to selling bonds.

Colleges typically pay off those bonds with contractually obligated revenue generated from the sale of premium seats and private donations from season-ticket holders.

The TCU administration did not want financing for stadium construction to affect funding for future expansion on the campus, so officials made a budgetary decision and relied on donors’ commitments to pay off a five-year line of credit for construction, Del Conte said.

That model may not work many other places, but in North Texas, where oil money flows toward football like the Trinity River flows through Fort Worth, TCU raised $164 million without having to bond any debt.

Additional gifts of $1 million to $5 million to buy the 19 new Champions Suites, all 10-year deals, helped the school reach its total number.

“What a smart decision it was because we hit it right,” Del Conte said. “It’s unique and I’m really proud. Coming off the greatest economic downturn in modern times, we built the stadium debt-free. It speaks volumes of the community.”

By reaching that benchmark, the $25 to $3,000 annual fees tied to ticket prices for 12,500 seats in the stadium, including 2,400 new club seats, go directly to the school’s scholarship program instead of being used to pay construction debt. The total is $11 million a year, said Jeremiah Donati, director of TCU’s Frog Club, which administers the scholarship seating program.

Overall, the renovation resurrects the art deco design theme consistent with the architecture in downtown Fort Worth in 1930, the year the stadium opened. During its initial research on campus, officials from project designer HKS found the original drawings for the stadium, which were full of art deco elements, said Jerry Fawcett, the firm’s associate principal and senior vice president. But early in the Great Depression, the school could not afford to incorporate all the design details and they were scrapped.

“It was supposed to be a much more upscale building,” Fawcett said. “It was stark and bare, not unlike a lot of stadiums built in that era. We were able to connect with their history and build to some degree what the intentions were always meant to be. We were very fortunate in that regard.”

The stadium redesign produced such a strong emotional connection between TCU alumni and supporters and city leaders that Fawcett believes it helped boost the school’s effort to raise money for the project. “I don’t think it hurt,” Donati said.

The retro design also fit with TCU’s goal to create the “Camden Yards of college football.” The catch phrase came from Danny Morrison, TCU’s former athletic director, who left the school in September 2009 to become president of the Carolina Panthers.


Amon G. Carter Stadium
Built: 1930
Project cost: $164 million
Renovation designer: HKS
Last major renovation: 2008

What’s new: In addition to six Founders Level suites, 19 Champions suites and 2,400 club seats (which joined six existing suites and 250 club seats), HKS designed a renovation with wider concourses and modern concession stands and restrooms without increasing the stadium’s overall footprint. HKS could not expand east and encroach upon academic space or Frog Alley, the school’s pregame tailgate zone adjacent to the building.

As a result, HKS’ Jerry Fawcett said, “It became a design driver for us to really squeeze this thing down and still give people comfortable seating depths and keep [expansion] on the west side.”

The project reduced seating to about 45,000, down from 47,000. “There is a plan to go to 50,000 seats if they need to on the east side with another deck,” Fawcett said.

Premium seat details: Founders Level suites (capacity up to 50) $15 million, 30-year term; tickets, food and beverage, alcohol included; sold out. Champions suites (capacity up to 24) $1 million to $5 million, 10-year term; sold out. Club seats $1,000-$3,000 annually ($500 for season tickets and food and beverage, remainder as gift to TCU Frog Club); sold out.

Financing: Privately financed through donor commitments and gifts.

Morrison originally hired HKS in 2006 to develop a master plan for stadium upgrades. Two years later, TCU opened a new building in the south end zone with six suites and a club lounge, plus football operations facilities.

“Two donors came to Danny and said, ‘We want to do something for the team and the fans, and we want to do it right now,’” Fawcett said. “It was the first premium product TCU ever had and set the tone for everything else.”

In keeping with the art deco theme, concession signs were designed to look like old movie theater displays. Concourse ads have a faded look to make it appear they were painted on the walls from the old days, said T. Ross Bailey, TCU’s associate athletic director.

Pepsi went the extra mile and custom designed a special logo from the 1930s at TCU’s request. To complete the “distressed look,” Bailey said, project officials found a 3M product for a vinyl graphics that when treated with a heat gun sucks the colors into the brick.

For a stadium that prefers to look old, the building embraces new technology. Cisco’s StadiumVision gives TCU the ability to “wrap” ad panels around game broadcasts on the facility’s 268 high-definition televisions.

AT&T invested in wireless infrastructure to improve coverage for mobile devices. Verizon and Sprint will soon follow with their own systems, Bailey said.

Bypass Lane, a mobile concessions company whose investors include Texas pitching legend Nolan Ryan, has dedicated lanes at 14 concession stands. Fans can text their orders from smartphones and receive a return text for pickup.

The six Founders donors are recognized on concourse pillars and on busts in a plaza outside the stadium. “So many buildings you walk into, nobody ever knows the story for who they were named for or who put the money behind them,” Bailey said.

Washington will have a completely rebuilt stadium but keep its iconic site on the shore of Lake Washington.


Husky Stadium
Built: 1920
Project cost: $250 million
Renovation designer: 360 Architecture
Last major renovation: 1987

The two-year construction project is halfway done in Seattle, with structural steel completion set for Oct. 3. The Pac-12 school is essentially getting a new stadium at the spot where its old one sat, at one of college football’s most beautiful settings on the shores of Lake Washington. The project is adding 25 suites, 45 patio suites and 2,500 outdoor club seats on the stadium’s south side.

Where it stands: School officials took a conservative approach for suite development, said O.D. Vincent, Washington’s senior associate athletic director; total premium inventory represents only 6 percent of total seats. “We knew we weren’t going to sell 100 suites ringing the bowl,” he said. “I think we have the right number of premium seats.” When the project is completed, stadium seating will be reduced to about 70,500. The loss of 2,000 seats were mostly obstructed views, Vincent said. The running track circling the field will be removed, bringing fans much closer to the action in what is already one of college football’s loudest stadiums. Washington plays home games this season at CenturyLink Field before moving back to Husky Stadium next season.

Premium seat details: Suites (18 seats) $60,000 annually for three or five years; 17 of 25 sold in early September. Patio suites (logestyled product) $10,000 annually for four seats, $15,000 annually for six seats, both for three or five years; sold out. Club seats $1,050-$1,950 annual donation plus cost of season tickets; sold out. Parking passes included, food and drink a separate cost for all premium seats.

Financing: The university is marketing 12 founding partnerships to help pay for construction. Two deals offer naming rights to the field and the new club. Project funding is split among $50 million in private donations and $200 million financed through the sale of 30-year bonds.

A stadium that had only six suites before the renovation now has a full premium inventory to offer.


Martin Stadium
Project cost: $65 million
Renovation designer: AECOM
Last major renovation: 2007

What’s new: One of the country’s smallest BCS stadiums has opened a new addition on the south side with 21 suites, 1,183 outdoor club seats, 83 indoor club seats and 42 loge boxes. The entire project, which pushes total seating to about 33,500, was designed and built in 17 months. Construction started in December, a few weeks after Washington State hired Mike Leach as its football coach, and finished in early August, three weeks ahead of schedule, said John Johnson, the school’s senior associate athletic director. The excitement surrounding the Leach hire, coupled with a premium experience new to many fans in Pullman — the stadium had six small suites before the renovation — helped market the inventory, Johnson said. “The interest and feedback has been really positive,” he said. In total, premium seat revenue should generate $3.1 million a year for scholarships.

Premium seat details: Suites $50,000 annually for 24 seats, $40,000 for 18 seats, $30,000 for 12 seats, covering cost of tickets and scholarship donations; sold out. All club seats $300 plus annual donations of $1,400 to $2,200 to athletic fund; indoor club seats are sold out, and outdoor club seats were 85 percent sold two weeks into season. Loge boxes $15,000 annually for six seats, $10,000 for four seats. Terms for all premium seats are three, five and seven years.

Financing: The school sold $80 million in bonds to finance construction, which will be paid off through TV revenue, among other sources. The school also raised more than $20 million to build a future football operations facility.