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Volume 21 No. 1


Don Muret
The new indoor practice facility for Northwestern’s football team will be cast as a multipurpose space, a departure from similar structures in college sports, an architect involved with the development says.

360 Architecture, the firm that designed recent upgrades to SEC stadiums at Missouri and Mississippi State, is part of the team selected to plan the Lakeside Athletic Complex, a $220 million project on the Northwestern campus along the shore of Lake Michigan.

The centerpiece is a 106,000-square-foot building to serve the needs of the Big Ten school’s football program in addition to providing an early-season venue for lacrosse games and a home for Northwestern’s intramural programs, 360 principal Nate Appleman said.

Most BCS schools have indoor practice facilities built exclusively for football programs. Northwestern, though, is a “different animal” compared with its Big Ten counterparts, Appleman said: It’s the only private school in a conference of large public institutions and has only about 8,500 full-time undergraduate students on its campus in Evanston, a Chicago suburb where real estate is at a premium.

As a result, 360 Architecture and lead architect Perkins + Will are charged with designing a facility with the flexibility to benefit the entire student body, he said. The building will have seating for 2,500 people to accommodate lacrosse games.

“Student Affairs has its eyes on using it for 25 different things,” Appleman said. “Football will have to schedule it just like everybody else.”

Northwestern officials declined to comment. The project is working its way through the approval process with city officials in Evanston, sources said.

The Wildcats football team practices indoors at Trienens Hall, a building with an 80-yard field and tight clearances, Appleman said.

The Lakeside complex also covers improvements to the aquatics center, upgrades to the outdoor soccer and lacrosse fields, training and support facilities for seven athletic programs and new offices for Northwestern’s athletic administrators.

There is no timetable for when the entire project will be completed, Appleman said.

> REYNOLDS WRAP: Separately, 360 Architecture won the job to design a $40 million renovation of Reynolds Coliseum, North Carolina State’s 64-year-old arena on campus.

The 8,560-seat arena, home to Wolfpack women’s basketball, will undergo a retrofit to include new restrooms, upgraded concession stands, a new office tower at the north end, a walk of fame and a multipurpose hospitality space for 200 people.

The plan includes air conditioning, a first for the arena.

The facility’s most recent upgrades were in 2010, when the scoreboard was renovated. In 2005, a new hardwood maple playing surface was installed.

N.C. State’s men’s basketball team played home games at Reynolds Coliseum until moving to PNC Arena for the 1999-2000 season. Since that season, the Wolfpack men have committed to playing at least one game a year at the older arena and are 14-0 in those appearances.

Reynolds Coliseum is also home to the school’s wrestling and women’s volleyball and gymnastics teams.

John Eyler is 360’s principal in charge of the renovation.

> COMMON GROUND: The University of Kentucky, pending a signed contract, has selected HNTB to design a $125 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium.

The project calls for adding 10 to 15 suites, 2,000 to 2,500 club seats, a team store, a new press box and a full-service kitchen, according to local reports.

DeWayne Peevy, Kentucky’s executive associate athletic director for external operations, said the school could not comment publicly until a deal is signed with an architect. HNTB designed a $24 million expansion to the stadium in the late 1990s.

Gerardo Prado, an HNTB associate vice president, said he would have a role in the new updates. He was involved in designing the previous improvements as one of his first projects at the firm.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

The Minnesota Vikings’ stadium development, already facing issues over public financing for the project, has another challenge to overcome: meeting a fixed construction budget of $690 million to build the 65,454-seat facility.

The tight budget has forced project officials to make adjustments after Mortenson, the Twin Cities contractor selected in mid-February to build the stadium, handed the Vikings an initial estimate that was $100 million more than the fixed number, industry sources said.

Since the team received the first estimate, Mortenson and Thor Construction, its minority partner, have come back with changes to construction pricing to the point that costs are “within acceptable numbers again,” one source said.

Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said there is no reason to be alarmed because the design remains a moving target. The team and architect HKS expect to reveal a final design in the next few weeks.

“We just [teamed] the architect with the builder and are evaluating various options for stadium design,” Bagley said. “It’s part of the process to get feedback on pricing and value engineering. I’m confident we can meet the budget. I don’t think anybody is pushing the panic button.”

John Wood, a senior vice president at Mortenson in charge of the Vikings’ project, said information regarding the initial estimate being $100 million over budget was not correct, but he acknowledged there is a challenge to develop a stadium to meet the needs of both the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the stadium’s landlord.

While the Vikings prefer a building showcasing all the amenities expected of an NFL stadium, the goal of the authority is to develop a multipurpose facility that can fill a role similar to what the Metrodome, the Vikings’ current home, has accomplished over the past 30 years.

“It would be premature to suggest there is a budget problem,” Wood said. “It is a tight budget but [$690 million] is the amount of funding available and it has to be met. We are working hard to satisfy all interests of the authority and the Vikings, and I’m confident we

To meet the $690 million number, the Vikings have what Bagley called “hard decisions” to make on the facility’s square footage and its roof design. The project calls for a fixed roof with a retractable feature, and building a roof on an NFL stadium eats up a big piece of the construction budget.

“Regardless of whether it is retractable or fixed,” he said, “it covers a lot of steel and a lot of area.”

Wood said the Vikings’ project had forced everyone involved with the stadium design to “be as creative as possible to make it work.”

“I have been very impressed with the work HKS has done,” he said. “Sometimes that wouldn’t be the case with an abundance of money to spend on the project.”

Compared with the three most-recent NFL stadium projects, the Vikings have a much smaller budget to work with relative to design and market conditions for labor and materials.

The San Francisco 49ers’ $1.2 billion project covers about $850 million in hard costs for an open-air stadium built by a joint venture of Turner Construction and Devcon Construction, said Jack Hill, project executive. The remaining $400 million covers land acquisition and infrastructure upgrades, among other costs, Hill said.

Hill served in the same role for building $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium. The stadium has a retractable roof and opened four years ago with hard costs of $800 million in a market with favorable labor rates, he said.

In New Jersey, Skanska’s contract to build open-air MetLife Stadium was $1.13 billion, said Tom Tingle, the builder’s senior vice president and national sports director. Labor and material costs there run up to 20 percent higher than in the Midwest, Tingle said.

Mortenson has taken a close look at those projects, and Wood said it is difficult to make a fair comparison given that the Vikings’ stadium development has to build in costs for the roof to withstand heavy snowfalls. For the 49ers, there is a premium is tied to seismic conditions, he said.

Bagley said the Vikings expect to reach a guaranteed maximum price with Mortenson late this year. Total project costs are $975 million, an amount that covers infrastructure and relocation costs tied to the team’s two-year interim stay at TCF Bank Stadium.

The public portion of funding stadium construction includes $348 million from electronic gaming in bars and restaurants. To date, that revenue source is falling short of expectations.