To spruce up its look and add seating as the University of Missouri, Columbia, enters the Southeastern Conference, the Board of Curators approved a $72 million project to renovate memorial football stadium and other athletic structures.
The Board of Curators agreed to borrow the funds under a 30-year debt financing plan that also will allow the university to improve its tennis and golf facilities, and its softball and baseball stadiums. It is expected that the funding will be recouped from the sale of the additional premium seats. The financing plan also calls for the use of a half a million dollars from a campus facilities reserve fund that covers utility infrastructure improvements.
The university also received a $30 million donation from the Kansas City Sports Trust for football facility upgrades, which will allow the construction of a new indoor practice facility and a new weight room to the athletics training complex.
Providing additional seating will bring MU’s football stadium capacity closer to the level of other Southeastern Conference schools. In the Southeastern Conference, eight of the 14 schools have stadiums that hold at least 80,000. Currently, Missouri’s stadium is the 10th largest in the Southeastern Conference. After the renovation it will rank ninth.
The MU stadium project will add more than 6,000 seats, new restrooms, lounges and concession stands. The previous capacity of the Memorial Stadium was about 71,000. In 2013 the capacity will be 67,124 because of construction.
Moving the Rock-shaped M closer to the field reduced some of the seating, as did removing temporary bleachers. There won’t be any bleachers on the field level and extra bleachers in the concourse won’t be added. The Rock M is a huge letter M made of white rock on the hillside that is visible from the Faurot Football stadium. For the 2014 season, capacity is expected to be at 71,004 again, said Mike Alden, director of athletics at MU.
The expansion consists of creating an upper bowl with 5,200 bleacher seats on the stadium’s east side and about 1,000 premium seats under an overhang. The upper bowl construction will eliminate about 1,000 current seats that take up the top eight to 10 rows on the east side of the stands.
In the future, Missouri would like to add more enclosed luxury suites on the stadium’s west side and expand a concourse at the stadium’s north entrance that would provide room for another possible seating increase.
Work began in March 2013 with projects on all sides of the stadium. The overall project renovates about 42,000 sq. ft. (3,901.9 sq m) of existing club, suite, fan amenity, game operations and support spaces within the press box structure located on the west side of Memorial Stadium at a cost of $9.7 million by Sircal Contracting of Jefferson City, Mo.
The project also includes the relocation of a portion of the existing press area to the upper deck and the vacated press area will be converted to suites, according to information from Kaiser Electric, the electrical contractor on the project. An elevator will also be added near gate five-west in the southwest corner of the press box, connecting the main concourse level to the loge and press levels. The west-side construction is expected to be finished in August 2013.
In March demolition began inside the press box on the west side, and the east side parking lot was closed to allow construction of the east-side addition. The east side portion, which holds the student section, is the largest portion of the overall project at $45.6 million and is to be completed by the start of the 2014 football season. This phase was originally given a completion date of August 2015. The time savings is due to the funding being lined up quicker than anticipated so design plans could be completed sooner.
Stadium construction on the north end and the east side also began. Work early this year also included a $3.5 million north concourse project that widened the concourse, giving fans more space to move about before the game.
Another segment of the project is a $700,000 underground utility line that runs across the stadium’s south side and connects to the east and west sides and then to the Mizzou Arena. Kaiser Electric of Fenton, Mo., wired and installed new lighting and expanded electrical distribution for the renovated area.
To create smooth scheduling, J.E. Dunn has initiated pull planning, which is a technique where the foreman is empowered to create an efficient schedule, keeping the end date in mind. “That is working well,” Heger said.
During July crews with J.E. Dunn Construction, the contractor for the east-side portion of the construction, worked on the cast-in-place concrete, and elevator and stair towers in preparation of stair and elevator construction in August. Structural steel for the roof also was placed during August.
Getting the project out of the ground was difficult due to wet spring conditions, causing the need for crews to work some Saturdays to catch up, said Tom Heger, vice president of J.E. Dunn. A portion of the project was to be completed by the start of the fall football season, while other work will resume next spring, after the football season. “We are working in stages around the university’s schedule,” Heger said. Framing for the floor level premium level seating needed to be complete before the games begin in 2013, so that in 2014 construction can begin on the premium level.
Maneuvering large equipment in tight quarters has presented its challenges. The stadium is on one side of the crews while a street that is a major bus route is on the other side, Heger said. When moving equipment in, road closures are necessary. Contractors are working with a 90-ton (81.6 t) rough terrain crane, a fork lift, a drilling rig and trucks to haul out spoil from constructing the piers.
Other segments of the $72 million project include:
- A $1.4 million golf clubhouse is being constructed to house offices, locker rooms, indoor hitting bays and swing instruction technology for the men’s and women’s teams. The project is scheduled for completion by September.
- Baseball’s clubhouse at Taylor Stadium also is being renovated and is expected to be completed by the start of the 2014 season. The $4 million clubhouse will feature a new locker room, meeting rooms, coaches offices and coaches’ locker room. During July, trenches for drainage were dug by the warning track and behind home plate. Footings for the brand new locker room and clubhouse also have been dug.
- A new indoor tennis facility is being constructed and will include elevated spectator seating, coaches’ offices, team locker room and lounge, training room, visiting team locker room, membership locker room and public restrooms. Outdoor bleacher seats also will be added. Construction is expected to be completed by spring 2014.
- Softball plans are still under consideration. A new stadium will cost about $15 million. However, fundraising still needs to be done.
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