UW Athletics Provides A Glimpse Into The Future
Nov. 29, 2006
By Tim Booth
SEATTLE -- Washington athletic director Todd Turner, offering reporters his vision for the university's athletic facilities, emphasized one thing: The future begins and ends at Husky Stadium.
Turner noted Thursday that his presentation is not yet a plan. There are no dollar figures or timelines attached, and massive nearby transportation projects could present serious obstacles.
Still, his 30-minute presentation completed the first step in a process that started in March 2005 when a facility planning study began. Working with a committee that included former Gov. Dan Evans, UW coaches and sports architectural firm HOK Sport, Washington has developed a grand vision for its athletic future.
"We're not ignoring the other things, but our focus is going to be on deciding what to do with Husky Stadium because it does drive this train," Turner said.
His wish list is quite long. It includes a renovated Husky Stadium, new football operations center, a relocated track, renovated baseball and soccer stadiums and renovated locker rooms.
It was the same presentation Turner gave to the university's regents two weeks ago, when he received approval to move forward with a four- to six-month period of studying all options and developing a plan.
"Now the hard work begins," he said. "What are you going to do, how are you going to pay for it and when is it going to happen?"
While Turner's vision includes improved facilities and amenities for many of Washington's 22 other intercollegiate sports, football and Husky Stadium are the main focus. About 70 percent of Washington's athletic revenue comes from that, he noted.
"This is incredibly important to the business of the athletic department," Turner said.
A renovated Husky Stadium would need to be more modern and accessible for many of Washington's longtime season-ticket holders now entering their 60s, 70s and 80s. The stadium currently has only two elevators.
It also could create new revenue streams through premium seating -- perhaps even suites -- and would need to stay close to its current capacity of 72,500, to maximize its earning potential.
A new addition could come at the west end of the stadium. Two renderings showed a glass and brick facade on the outside of the stadium that could be a new football support center.
Inside there would be covered seating, perhaps with a two-tiered structure, similar to what is currently on the north and south sides of the stadium.
An improved Husky Stadium appears to be No. 1 on the project list. Turner hopes that could lead to additional revenue to help pay for things like updates to the baseball and soccer venues.
However, two transportation projects -- a Sound Transit light rail station to be constructed outside Husky Stadium and plans for a new Highway 520 bridge across Lake Washington -- complicate the picture.
Construction on the Sound Transit station is expected to start in late 2008 or early 2009 and last 5 1/2 years. Some preliminary plans for a new interchange off Highway 520 would run right through the south parking lot of Husky Stadium.
HOK architects told Turner they have never dealt with such a complicated transportation plan.
Turner would like to see construction on Washington's athletic facilities taking place at the same time as the Sound Transit project.