The autumn roars following touchdowns have been replaced by the rumble of dump trucks and whir of cranes.
The $250 million renovation of Husky Stadium has reached the end of the first quarter. According to Washington athletic director Scott Woodward, the news is very good.
Woodward said Monday before a press tour that the university has raised $48.5 million of the stated goal of $50 million expected to come from “major gift contributions.” That amount has come from about 245 donors.
“Here we are at the end of April, and we are on time and on budget,” Woodward said.
The $50 million could be surpaassed, he said, pleasantly surprised after big initial concerns about fund-raising.
“I was scared beyond belief on it, just because of this tough (economic) climate,” Woodward said. The economic downturn actually helped Washington push down costs for materials and labor. The $200 million balance is to be paid with university construction bonds.
All club seats and patio suites have been sold. Around five to eight luxury suites remain.
Woodward is also pleased with the 95 percent season-ticket renewal rate. He felt the one-year move to CenturyLink Field during construction could reduce renewals.
“I was doubtful, but proven wrong,” Woodward said.
The Don James Center in the north grandstand -- the only portion of the stadium built in 1920 that remains standing -- has been turned into a temporary construction office for Turner, the prime contractor. Football recruits will be walked through the work cubicles, look out upon the massive hole and dozens of machines, vehicles and workers, and be shown projections of the completed stadium, which is expected to seat around 70,000.
“I think when recruits come on campus, and we can show them mockups of what it’s going to be, that’s impressive to guys,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It’s a reality that the kid who signs with us in the 2013 recruiting class (will have) his first game in brand new Husky Stadium.”
The fund-raising for the stadium may have a trickle-down effect on other sports. Woodward said money raised beyond $50 million could help improve other facilities, namely the baseball stadium.
“We have one of the worst baseball facilities, as far as a stadium goes, in Division I, much less our counterparts in the big six power conferences,” Woodward said. “You also so look at a lot of other things that need to be taken care of and upgraded. The more we raise for the football stadium, the more it’s going to allow us to reinvest back into our student-athletes.”
The construction plan calls for beginning erection of the south stands June 15. The concrete walls of of the football operations facility under the west end stands, including weight room, locker room, coaching offices and tunnel, can be seen now.
A year from now, after most building materials are in place and off the stadium floor, crews will excavate the ground about four feet deeper to create the playing field.
Washington doesn’t have a metric to assure the reconfigured stadium will be louder, but Woodward thinks the south end student section could have a feel equivalent to Century Link's noise made by the Sounders' Brougham End rowdies.
More elevators and bathrooms will please customers, as will the large video board and the absence of the giant, circular ramps that reached the old stadium's highest seating levels. Two new video boards will be added in the north end.
Simultaneously, Metro Transit is building a light rail station on the southeast corner of the stadium project. At one point, the road between the sites narrows so much that dump trucks are left with only a few feet on either side to pass through.
Naming right for the field are still being shopped, reportedly for $50 million.
All told, the construction pace and price are in line with projections.
“That’s music to my ears,” Woodward said.