UW officials offer a glimpse at the half-completed renovation of Husky Stadium.
A week from Saturday, the Washington Huskies will open the 2012 football season in their temporary home, CenturyLink Field.
A year from now, they will return to their permanent home, to a renovated Husky Stadium the school hopes will be regarded as one of the shining palaces of college football. A venue that will help the team return to the glory days of the Don James era.
“It’s huge,” Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said of the importance of the renovated stadium. “It’s something that is going to add even more momentum to an upward trend.”
Friday, UW officials led media through the half-completed facility, the second time they have opened the doors since the project began in November.
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Woodward reported that the project is “on time and on budget. I’m very pleased.”
The renovation is expected to cost $261 million, including a sports-medicine clinic that will be part of the facility and will be paid for by rent from the clinic. The school will raise $250 million for the stadium and a football operations center, with roughly $50 million coming in private donations and $200 million in revenue generated by the stadium (a loan paid off over 30 years).
Woodward said the school has topped its goals in terms of fundraising and he is confident the private donation figure will be met. He said an announcement of more donations with exact figures will come soon, though the school said in the spring it has raised more than $48.5 million. The school also is attempting to sell naming rights to the stadium for $50 million (though Husky Stadium will remain as part of the name).
“It’s exceeded my expectations,” Woodward said. “We have a whole year to raise funds for this stadium and we are not stopping.”
He also reported similarly sunny figures on sales of premium seats in the new stadium, saying luxury suites are essentially sold out and all club and loge seating is sold.
While the school has the authority to go 10 percent above the price of the project if needed, Woodward said he doesn’t think that will be required. He said there have been no unexpected issues.
In fact, Woodward said he felt confident enough to recently move the first game of the 2013 season up a week. The Huskies will play Boise State on Aug. 31.
There’s a chance the stadium could be completed in time for the Huskies to hold training camp there next August. Passers-by who see the quickly rising structure — the upper trusses on the new south side began to be put into place this week — might think it could be done even sooner.
Woodward, though, cautioned that much of what remains to be done won’t be as easily viewed.
The estimated capacity remains 70,000. That’s less than the official capacity of 72,500 in the old Husky Stadium, but Woodward said that total included obstructed view seats that the school didn’t often sell.
The one significant change in plans since construction began is to the audiovisual system (scoreboards, etc.), due largely to ever-evolving technologies.
The school reported there have been no injuries during the construction, and that they have been able to recycle 97 percent of disposed material, largely in cement that was recrushed and put back into the stadium.
The project includes an 83,000-square-foot football operations center that will house a weight room, locker room and coaches’ offices.
The renovation comes at a time when the Huskies have begun to turn their program around under fourth-year coach Steve Sarkisian, who has led the UW to bowl games the past two years — the first bowl trips for the Huskies since 2002.
The new stadium, Woodward says, should help the UW complete the journey back to the top.
“From a facilities standpoint, this is going to keep us competing with the top programs in (college football),” Woodward said.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta.