In the world of college football, there are a few names that resonate more than that of former University of Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
And now, the namesake of the man who led the Crimson Tide to 323 victories, 37 winning seasons and five Associated Press national championships, Bryant-Denny Stadium, better represents the legendary sideline leader.
Brice Building Company of Birmingham, AL, is wrapping up a $55 million renovation project to the stadium’s north end. When the crews pull out of the site prior to the first home game Sept. 2, the stadium will boast 10,000 more seats, including 38 luxury skyboxes, club seating and a new deck to match those at the east and west ends.
Acting as a management firm on the job, Brice, led by Project Superintendent David Hughes and Project Manager Steve Mizerany, oversaw 17 trade contractors whose crews completed the actual work. And some of the trade contractors hired as many as 15 or 20 subcontractors to get the job done. At the peak of the work, the total workforce numbered approximately 300, Hughes said.
Contractors first arrived on the site in December 2004, when demolition and site prep began. The crew from Virginia Wrecking of Mobile, AL, removed 600 to 800 cu. yds. of structural steel and cast-in-place concrete, as well as the old scoreboard.
Virginia Wrecking was also charged with site prep work, for which it had to relocate all of the utilities that fed into the north side of the stadium, including water, sewer and electricity.
This task proved tricky, Hughes said, as the power to the stadium was tied into nearby buildings, including the university’s television station. During some phases of this part of the job, crews had to bring in generators to keep the other buildings up and running. The work included the installation of an electrical switch that isolated power to the stadium from the rest of the grid.
Once the utilities had been moved, Duncan and Thompson of Birmingham, AL, came in as foundation contractor, assisted by its major subcontractor, The Russo Corporation.
This part of the job called for the placement of the caissons to support the structure. Hughes said the caissons, which measured 30- to 108-in. in diameter, averaged 70-ft. deep. They were all topped with pile caps.
After foundation work was completed in March, construction of the main part of the new structure was headed up by B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham.
This crew brought with it a pair of 220-ton Manitowoc 888 cranes to assist in the structural duties, as well as an 80- and a 50-ton hydraulic unit. Russo added to the fleet with two caisson drill rigs, cranes, dozers and backhoes.
In total, crews placed approximately 26,000 cu. yds. of concrete. Hughes said they had some difficulties getting the concrete in and out of the site, especially through the traffic during class changes.
However, Hughes said the biggest challenge of the project came during football season, when the contractors had to work around eight home games.
Each Friday at noon prior to game day, crews would stop construction and work for the rest of the day to ensure the stadium was safe for the hoards of fans the next day.
The architect had outlined safe paths for the crowds to follow through the areas under construction and the crews fenced off the site. They also placed crushed stone for emergency egress paths.
There was no work completed on game days, but the contractor maintained a presence at the site, “in case of any unforeseen eventualities,” Hughes said, of which there were none.
During good weather, Hughes said contractors were working seven days a week, some from dawn to dusk. Harbert crews worked some nights during the setting of precast concrete, as they had more room to work and wouldn’t have to swing heavy loads carried on cranes over peoples’ heads.
With most of the work on the stadium structure completed, Hughes said contractors are focused on the completion of a new plaza area that will lead into the stadium’s north entrance.
Work on this part of the project, which encompasses the area from Stadium Drive West to the Phi Kappa Psi house, began Feb. 1. It will include a Walk of Champions, a Coaches Walk (statues of former coaches Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, Gene Stallings and Bryant), lighting and landscaping.
First opened in 1929 as George Hutchenson Denny Stadium, this is the latest in a series of renovations throughout its history. In 1937, 6,000 seats were added on its east side to bring its capacity to 18,000. The number of seats grew to 25,000 in 1950 and to 43,000 in 1961.
Just five years later, capacity was expanded to 60,000 and then again to 70,123 in 1988.
Most recently, in 1998, the east side upper deck was added to the stadium, which includes 10,000 bleacher seats and 81 skyboxes on two levels. A new east side entrance tower and brick façade was also added during this expansion.
The state legislature changed the facility’s name to Bryant-Denny Stadium in 1975. CEG