Contracts signed, time line set for Commonwealth Stadium renovation

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJuly 23, 2013 

Words like "preliminary" and "early" are used throughout, but new documents show that the Commonwealth Stadium project is starting to take shape.

The University of Kentucky has signed formal deals with an architectural firm and a construction manager and has rough drawings in place for a $110 million renovation of the stadium and other football facilities.

The project is scheduled in several phases, outlined in the construction manager's proposal, with completion planned before the start of the 2015 football season.

A series of contracts, schematics and other documents obtained by the Herald-Leader via open-records requests shed new light on what the new Commonwealth Stadium might look like and how it will come together.

A UK Athletics spokesman cautioned that the drawings in the proposal by new construction manager Skanska USA Building Inc./Congleton-Hacker Company are not set in stone.

"Until some other decisions have been made, it's one of those things that encompasses some thoughts, desires, and was part of their presentation," DeWayne Peevy said. "But as you know, a lot can change between now and next time. The next thing we would have will be when we have the actual model."

The formal model probably will be unveiled in October, Peevy said. The next step in the process involves bidding out the project's pieces, school spokesman Jay Blanton added.

In the meantime, UK has signed a contract worth $5,895,580 with Skanska/Congleton-Hacker, the same company that completed the recent Rupp Arena locker room renovation.

The company has worked on more than $3 billion in sports facilities across the country, including stadium renovations at Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Baylor.

It also worked on several professional sports venues such as Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

In its 73-page proposal to UK, Skanska/Congleton-Hacker said its primary goal is to "assure that fan enjoyment and the excitement of simply attending the event is foremost in our minds during the pre-construction and construction process."

The company beat out Mortenson-Mathis, which did the work on the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, among others.

The proposal gives a look at potential specific changes at Commonwealth Stadium and Nutter Training Center and offers a time line for how and when the work will be completed.

The contract calls for "substantial completion" to take place by Aug. 14, 2015, and a final completion date 30 calendar days after that.

In the contract, there are built-in safeguards for the university should the company fail to meet those completion dates, such as UK receiving $16,000 for each home game day that the club seating portions of the project aren't completed. For unfinished sky boxes, the company would pay $7,900 per game day.

The firm of Ross Tarrant Architects earned the UK contract, worth $8,367,464, and will work closely with national firm HNTB on the final drawings. An artist's rendering of their initial plan is on the inside cover of UK's new football media guide.

"We wanted to put something out there," Peevy said of the rendering, which shows a new façade, as well as a new press box level. "It was really the closest thing we had to show people. ... It's just the closest thing we have to anything right now. We don't have anything that's further along in the process yet."

Phase one, according to the preliminary schedule from the construction manager, is to take place from Sept. 1 of this year to December 2014.

That phase will include a new team retail store, renovation and expansion of Wildcat Den (where news conferences are held), some minimal renovations for baseball offices, and locker rooms for officials and cheer and dance teams.

The first phase also includes an updated Presidents' room and new team facilities such as a multipurpose recruiting room (on the Nutter Field House side of the stadium), as well as team locker rooms.

The new Coaches' Club, which could offer up to 2,200 club-level seats as well as other premium seating and patio areas, also is listed as part of phase one.

Demolition during this phase also could include nine rows from the upper deck (about 2,000 seats) to make room for the new press box and suite-level seating.

"We won't know how many seats will be affected by relocation for a while," Peevy noted. "That's some of our biggest worries why we wouldn't do (a full model) now. We don't want to misrepresent anything. We need it all to be finalized."

The second phase, which runs from January 2014 to August 2015, calls for demolition of most existing concessions and restrooms, the elevator tower and existing press box.

It involves a lot of upper concourse work, including a plan to "infill existing openings" around stairs.

Other concepts in the second phase include two new student end-zone viewing decks and four new accessible platforms around the upper concourse.

The plan also calls for new banners north and south of the scoreboard area to enclose the stadium and notes that it could be a possible "Ring of Honor" location. The ring, which honors former UK greats, was displaced in 2011 when electronic ribbon boards were installed around the stadium.

Other pieces mentioned for the second phase include another level of club seating called the "Wildcat Club," which includes a lounge area. The new press box, relocated to the top of the stadium, will seat 120 members of the media, an increase over the current 100 spots.

Plans for changes at the Nutter Football Training Facility on the south side of campus were less detailed, but they call for "expansion of exercise, training, sports medicine, dining area, team lounge, receiving building and sports turf storage."

Preliminary drawings include a new entrance and expansion toward the practice fields (where there is a patio now).

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service