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Believe It Or Not, Only 1 Month Until Husky Stadium Renovation Begins
Release: 10/06/2011
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Oct. 6, 2011

By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing

SEATTLE - Steve Sarkisian is immersed up to his headset in his Huskies' season. He is also buoyed by Washington's best start in five years.

Yet the coach and turnaround artist is getting just as jazzed about what's just around the corner: The centerpiece to the reconstruction of his football program.

Believe it or not, the renovation of Husky Stadium is just one month away.

The disconnection of stadium utilities, the mobilization of work crews and equipment and the preparation to demolish the lower bowl and south stands begin on groundbreaking day, Nov. 7. That will be less than 48 hours after Washington hosts Oregon in the final game inside Husky Stadium as we know it, before the $250 million stadium renovation and concurrent construction of a new football operations center gets underway.

"It's huge. To have what in my opinion will be the best stadium in America right here on our campus, it's obviously a big deal from a recruiting front," Sarkisian said while standing after a recent practice on the soon-to-be-obsolete track of the iconic, 91-year own stadium - which is being renovated without the state of Washington or the university contributing any money to the project.

"In this day and age of what's going on with stadiums, it's going to be an unbelievable experience. From a football operations perspective, for us, you almost can't put it into words what it will mean."

To have what in my opinion will be the best stadium in America right here on our campus, it's obviously a big deal from a recruiting front.

Sarkisian said he and his staff are already sensing a buzz among recruits over one of the nation's loudest and most picturesque football venues becoming one of its most state-of-the-art - and one that will benefit all 21 of UW's intercollegiate sports teams. Ones coming to games this fall already notice the air of renewal - and of progress.

"The buzz is that it's for real. That it's happening. That this isn't something where you just have a board up in your office saying, `This is going to be our stadium,'" Sarkisian said. "It's happening, and the recruits understand that."

As of last week, Husky athletics had raised over $43.3 million in philanthropic giving for the "Drive for Husky Stadium" since announcing it last year.

"The support in this timeframe has been amazing. Our donors are just remarkable," said Jennifer Cohen, UW's senior associate athletic director for advancement.

The Huskies are trying to get the final $6.7 million to reach their lofty, $50 million goal before the Nov. 7 groundbreaking. Other philanthropic opportunities within sections of the new stadium and in the new, 70,000-square-foot football operations center are still available. Donors interested in philanthropic naming opportunities can find them at

The other $200 million of the cost for the "Drive for Husky Stadium" will be financed by 30-year construction bonds and paid for through expected new revenues in the new stadium. Those are estimated to be at least $14.3 million per year.

That $14.3 million is the sum of expected annual sales from new luxury and patio suites plus club suites, from additional Tyee Club and season-ticket revenue and from to-be-determined naming rights for the field -- not the stadium, it will remain known as Husky Stadium.

Huskies officials call the scope of the project that the athletics department is completely funding "massive."

That matches the impact the new stadium, its amenities, its revenue and the new football operations center are expected to have on the entire, self-sustaining athletic department.

"Our donors and our fans recognize the importance of this project, not just to the football players but to the volleyball players, the soccer players, the golfers, the gymnasts - to every Husky athlete," UW athletic director Scott Woodward said.

"To be the best, to fulfill our goals to win championships, you have to have the best facilities and the best training. The new Husky Stadium will be the best.

"To be the best, to fulfill our goals to win championships, you have to have the best facilities and the best training. The new Husky Stadium will be the best.

"We can't wait for the renovation to begin."

After groundbreaking on Nov. 7, demolition on the west end zone sections facing Montlake Boulevard is scheduled to begin Nov. 12. The west end of the stadium is where the football operations center - complete with new locker, training rooms and weight rooms plus coaches offices and a players' lounge - will be constructed. The football center, which will have a glass entry way and a second-floor balcony overlooking the new field, is scheduled to be the first new facility completed inside the renovated stadium.

Fans will notice the concrete, spiral walkways connecting entrances to the upper levels on the south side of Husky Stadium beginning to come down in mid-November.

Shoring for the excavation of the west end zone is scheduled for Nov. 18 - a week before the Huskies "host" Washington State in a unique Apple Cup at Century Link Field. The actual excavation of the west end of Husky Stadium is planned for the first week of December.

The south upper deck will not be detonated but will be removed piece-by-piece. In mid-December, the south-side roof atop the upper deck will come down, starting at the east, lake side. The roof will be demolished bay-by-bay, with the each supporting leg of a roof truss being seared and dropped into the lower bowl.

Plans from stadium developer Wright Runstad & Company call for concrete work to begin on the new lower bowl to begin in February, starting at the west end. The track around the field will be removed and the field will be lowered by four feet. The new Husky Stadium will have its first, unobstructed row of seats 27 feet, six inches closer to the field at the 50-yard lines with the track removed. The difference will be even more striking in the west end zone, where the new student section will be. Those seats will begin 89 feet, nine inches closer than where the current stands begin.

Concrete work on the south stands is scheduled to start in March. From June through next summer, the steel frames and the rest of the new south stands will go up. Plans are for the entire shell structure of the new stadium to be in place by the end of September 2012.

Once construction begins, a webcam will be launched on so fans can follow progress of the renovation from their computers.

"It will be arguably the best stadium in the country."

From now until Dec. 1, Washington season-ticket holders can place deposits on premium-seating options that will comprise six percent of the new stadium's seating opportunities. The renovated stadium is expected to offer approximately 70,000 seats, compared to the current capacity of 72,500. But with the seats closer to the field, no obstructed seats in the first few rows as there are now, and with its signature, cantilever roofs restored to trap the sound of UW's roaring fans, engineers believe the new Husky Stadium may become even louder than its renowned predecessor.

Husky athletics has already secured deposits for premium seats two years before the first game in the new stadium, on Sept. 7, 2013, against Boise State. The non-premium seating options will be at all price points, so there will be options for all preferences, Cohen said. She noted there will be sideline seats in the to-be-maintained north deck that will actually cost less in 2013 than they do now.

"We recognize not everyone is looking for that kind of luxury game-day experience," she said.

Sarkisian has played at Brigham Young. He has coached at USC. He's seen many, many college football stadiums across the country - and even NFL ones, such as in Miami for an Orange Bowl.

The Huskies' coach can't wait to move into his new one, right out his back door along Montlake Boulevard.

"It will be," he says, "arguably the best stadium in the country."

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