Thursday, January 20, 2011
UNT football stadium springs to life
Prospective ticket holders will tour the facility in April to finalize their seat selection.
It has been a year since UNT broke ground on the 30,000-seat football stadium that now towers above Interstate Highway 35 and Fouts Field.
Since the projects’ start, UNT has seen the resignation of a president and the handing over of the football team to a new head coach. Despite this …
“Everything is still on schedule,” said Eric Capper, senior associate athletic director. “And it looks like we should be able to complete the project for what was budgeted originally.”
Completion of the $78 million stadium is scheduled for July, in time for next fall’s football season. It will replace 53-year-old Fouts Field and is set to be LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) after construction, a title that could make it one of a kind in the realm of college football.
Crews celebrated the "topping out point" last October when they reached the highest point of construction on the stadium. The Board of Regents approved, in November, plans to erect three wind turbines next to the facility that will partially power it. Season tickets went on sale in December.
Now, work crews from Manhattan Construction, one of the companies managing the project, are finishing construction of the walls in the press box and continuing to brick the stadium’s outer sides. Bleacher seats will be installed in the lower bowl of the stadium during the next few weeks.
“Every seat in the house has spectacular views to the field, great amenities with restrooms and concessions, and then for the alumni, there is the opportunity for the suites and the club seats for the high donors, so it should be enjoyed by everyone,” said Greg Whittemore, vice president of HKS Architects and project manager.
The modern lines and amenities HKS included in their design of UNT’s stadium reflect one of the firms’ recent projects, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Club members will watch the Eagles from 21 suites complete with an elevator, bar, dining area and floor-to-ceiling windows. Prices for the suites range from $3,000 to $12,000, and, Capper said, they are selling.
“I think we are down to one or two that we have left to sell,” Capper said.
UNT has been marketing season tickets and club sales with the stadium’s own website and through UNT’s Athletics website, meangreensports.com. The latter contains a link from Ballena Technologies, a group that made a 3D reconstruction of the stadium that lets people view the field from any section online.
Prospective ticket holders will tour the facility in April to finalize their seat selection. Capper also expects the stadium’s LEED certification to attract investors.
To be LEED-certified, the facility must meet high environmental and sustainability standards during its design, construction and use.
The three wind turbines set to go up on the west side of the stadium will be a major factor in achieving this certification.
The turbines will offset about 40 percent of the stadium’s power when in use and will provide 6 percent of the power to neighboring Eagle Point.
Project managers are looking for a LEED Gold certification, which is one step below the agency’s highest rating. If acquired, UNT’s new facility would be the first Gold-certified college stadium.
“Once the construction is complete, we go through the process of determining how energy efficient the facility is and where it falls on the LEED certification scale,” Capper said. “We won’t know that for sure until after the project is complete.”
With the stadium’s completion a few months away, thoughts are turning to its accessibility.
Every road to and from the facility is two-lane and outdated. Plans to refurbish the roads and sidewalks near Intersate-35E will not be realized until after the 2011 season, Capper said. UNT hopes to build a walking bridge over the highway for pedestrians to access the facility sometime in 2012.
“We are at the mercy of [the Texas Department of Transportation] and their scheduling as far as that goes, but we are very hopeful that it should be complete for the 2012 season,” Capper said.
Plans are in the works now to host an inaugural event before UNT’s first home game.
“We don’t yet know what that even will be,” Capper said. “But we will make sure we have something in there that is enticing for all our fans and for people from the region to come and see.”
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