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'Wow Factor' In Husky Stadium 1 Year Before Opening
Release: 08/25/2012
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Aug. 25, 2012

By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing

SEATTLE - For now, it's just a concrete slab with steps onto what will become a patio overlooking the field.

But the view on a crystal-clear Friday afternoon from what will be coach Steve Sarkisian's office in Washington's new football operations building teased how spectacular the new Husky Stadium will be.

There are sweeping vistas to the east of the Cascade foothills, suburban Bellevue and sailboats on Lake Washington - and more immediately below of the $250 million stadium renovation that is about half done. To the right, the new UW Medicine Sports Medicine Clinic underneath the south stands, atop of a new, 200-car parking garage. Above that, steel is up for the beginnings of the south upper deck.

Huskies athletic director Scott Woodward remains thrilled with a project that is on time and on budget one week and one year before the stadium re-opens Aug. 31, 2013, with a home game with Boise State.

Woodward said his colleagues from across the country have a common reaction to such a massive renovation being entirely privately funded by UW.

"They are in awe," he said, noting officials from Colorado's athletic department recently toured to learn more for how to do a remodeling project coming soon in Boulder.

"They are pretty much impressed with it," Woodward deadpanned.

The AD then smiled and added, "and we're not done yet."

The football operations center is a jewel of the project, and its steel framework is already installed. The footprint of the facility built into the west end of the stadium facing Montlake Boulevard recently expanded from 70,000 to 83,000 square feet thanks to additional space at the top level where the coaches' offices and recruiting lounge will overlook the field. The lower floor, built into the lower bowl of the stadium, will house the new team locker room, weight room and training rooms.

Husky football has set a goal of moving into its new operations center before preseason practice for 2013 begins next August.

"There is a functionality and a `wow' factor of the football operations center," Woodward said, reiterating the huge boost the facility will give the Huskies' recruiting.

"That's going to be pretty cool."

So is the new sports medicine clinic.

Pilings are going in and the framework is taking shape beneath the south stands for the state-of-the-art UW Medicine clinic. That new facility will span 30,660 square feet - more than five times the size of the current UW Medicine clinic located beyond the opposite side of the stadium, on the northeast side of Alaska Airlines Arena.

A multidisciplinary healthcare team of UW Medicine physicians and staff will provide a full range of outpatient services including diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation beneath the new stadium. The clinic will be open to the public as well as to UW student-athletes of all sports, continuing a long-standing partnership between UW Medicine and Huskies athletics to provide Washington student-athletes and patients from our ultra-active community high-quality, efficient healthcare.

Those patients will come from far beyond Seattle. For years, opposing players, professional athletes such as Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders, even pros from across the country have receive innovative treatment from UW Medical Center.

Now even more will be attracted to Washington's renowned care and rehabilitation by this expansive and modern sports medicine clinic.

"The newly designed clinic gives us the opportunity to provide patient-centered care in efficiently designed examination rooms and diagnostic areas," said Johnese Spisso, the chief health system officer for UW Medicine and the vice president for UW's medical affairs.

As Spisso noted, "the facility also includes space for patient education and teaching, as well as an expanded sports performance and physical therapy center."

The sports medicine clinic will be directly connected to the new football operations center. UW Medicine physicians and Husky athletic trainers will staff the football operations center, as well.

A new, 200-car parking garage under the south stands will serve the athletic department plus patients seeking care in the UW Medicine Sports Medicine Clinic.

Thus, roughly half the circumference of the new stadium -- the south and west sides - will provide premier and innovative sports medical care, all beneath what promises to be one of America's most spectacular settings to watch college football.

"We've said it in every aspect of this Drive for Husky Stadium: Our student-athletes deserve the finest facilities in the country. So it is only fitting that our new sports medicine clinic will be among the very best of any campus in the nation," Woodward said.

"We are honored, privileged and in fact spoiled to have some of the finest college medical personnel in the world here at UW. And I promise you, this clinic will be as impressive as the people who will work inside it."

UW isn't finished with a private fundraising campaign - "The Drive for Husky Stadium" -- that has already exceeded its goals for this point in the project. Any money raised beyond the initially projected $50 million privately will trim from the $200 million UW expected to have in debt from the renovation.

Woodward said suites are essentially sold out for the new stadium, in 10-year contracts, with a "huge" waiting list. He said UW is still negotiating with potential corporate partners on naming rights for the playing field. A sale of field naming rights could make the official stadium title "(Corporate name) Field at Husky Stadium," Woodward said.

But as for the official name of the building, the AD stressed "it will always be Husky Stadium."

The university and its design-architecture-construction team of Wright-Rumstead and Turner Construction are proud that 97 percent of what they disposed from the former, 92-year-old stadium has been recycled. Much of that was the concrete of the original lower bowl built in 1920. That has been re-crushed and recycled back into the new lower bowl foundation that is complete up to the east end of the stadium, which will remain open facing Lake Washington.

Woodward reiterated the new stadium will have a capacity of 70,000, or very close to that. That will be comparable to the former capacity of 72,500, considering that thousands of lowest, obstructed-view seats and the running track have both been removed in the new Husky Stadium.

INSIDE CAMP: The Huskies checked out of the on-campus dorms they've been in since fall camp started Aug. 6 following their closed practice Saturday. That finished the first week of installing the game plan for Sept. 1's opener against San Diego State. Sarkisian treats seasons' first games like bowl games or games coming off a bye. He puts in the game plan in the open, first week. Then in the week immediately prior to the game he puts the team through the same practice schedule and game-plan installation again, to perfect it. ... Friday the Huskies had a mock game at Century Link Field. The team practiced everything from how it will do be pregame warm-ups and the coin toss through transitions from special teams to offense and defense, plus special game situations such as 2-minute drills. ... The team will now begin its regular game-week practice schedule: A coach's and players' press conference Monday afternoon preceded by a lighter workout; full practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings; a walkthrough Friday followed by checking into the team hotel that night for meetings and final preparation; then the game on Saturday. That schedule will change at least three times this season, as UW hosts Stanford on a Thursday next month and plays at California and Washington State on Fridays late in the year.

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