Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Stadium construction on schedule

Bill Hedge called it the “dash for cash.”

Just about four months now stand before the unveiling of the new West Stadium Center for Kansas State’s season opener on Aug. 30.

“Everything has gone smoothly,” the construction executive said Thursday morning during a media tour at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. “Everything is on schedule.”

The accelerated construction process began four months ago with the demolition of the old press box, and now a project that was three years in the making is nearly entirely framed and taking shape.

With nearly 300 workers daily, the stadium is ahead of pace in time for the opener against North Dakota State.

“We’re working our plan and we’re right on schedule,” Hedge said. “I was pleasantly surprised to do my walk-through Wednesday to find the mechanical and electrical people ahead of schedule. We’re progressing favorably.”

Look no further than the fresh coat of purple paint on the walls of a women’s restroom on the concourse.

“People ask if this going to be done by August 30,” K-State athletic director John Currie said. “Well, they are already painting the walls.

“That’s how much progress we’ve made.”

There is still much to be done, clearly, as the majority of the walls still need to be constructed. But the project has gone so smoothly that the athletic department has even been able to make additions throughout the process, including new linear bank lighting on the East side of the stadium that will go up sometime following Saturday’s spring game.

The add-ons, plus increased steel expense and about 20 additional stadium personnel will push the total cost of the project over its initial $75 million target, Currie said.

“We’ve been able to manage the project without sacrificing any quality to the project,” he said.

When complete, the West Stadium Center will stretch the length of the field with improved and more efficient lighting, wider concourses, enhanced club-level and suite seating, larger restrooms, more concessions, an enlarged team shop, a Hall of Honor and even the new “Tailgate Terrace” that overlooks the West parking lot. The center will also house the Sports Information offices and feature the new 200-seat dining hall for all K-State student-athletes.

But dreaming big and seeing it through didn’t always look to be the same thing when this project was in its infancy stages — first unveiled to fans during the Cotton Bowl pep rally 16 months ago in Arlington, Texas.

“We’ve been very fortunate in this project that even though there was some uncertainty around college athletics and the Big 12 during the whole time we were working on it, the contributors and our staff kept focused on where we wanted to be,” Currie said. “If you think back to the spring of 2010 is when we were taking our initial site visits, looking at facilities around the country, and that was also the same time Nebraska and Colorado were fixing to leave the conference.

“We continued to drive forward with the master plan throughout 2010 because, regardless of what the conference had evolved into, we were going to grow. We were going to build.”


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