Tiny countdown clocks litter Russ Pear's office in the belly of Commonwealth Stadium.
The clocks tick down to offer sometimes unwelcome updates for just how many more days and minutes Pear and his team have to complete the $120 million stadium renovation project.
Pear, UK's senior associate athletics director for capital projects, even has one of the mini timers sitting on the clothes dryer at his house. As he heads out for work each day, it's there.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
"I see it every day," he said Monday morning, when the clock advised that there were 54 days until fans flood into the newly renovated stadium for the Cats' season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette. "I think it's just kind of rolling in my head now."
There are other timers in various construction trailers surrounding the stadium, too. Everyone is well aware of just how precious few minutes there are.
The two separate feet of snow that fell on the project last winter coupled with the seemingly never-ending waves of rain that have drenched the Bluegrass this summer have slowed progress.
"That hurt us," Pear explained. "I kept saying all along the snow is not a big deal unless it stops people from getting to the job site. Well, it did that for a few days. Then the weather this summer has been a challenge, it's been wet trying to pour concrete and do site work."
But Pear promised that the stadium will be finished enough by 7 p.m. on Sept. 5.
"It will be done and it has to be done," he said. "We've got a night game, so we've got another eight, 10, 12 hours of time on Saturday."
The average fan that comes in that night will ooh and aah like the multiple groups — including some players and head coach Mark Stoops — have in recent weeks as they've toured the active construction site.
Pear is confident of that.
"We'll have it ready," he said. "My hope and plan is that there will be some back-of-the-house things that people won't know, but when they walk in here, they'll be like, 'Oh, wow.'"
Some work has had to be accelerated because of the delays. An open records request of contract additions and updates by the Herald-Leader details multiple expenses for cost of "construction acceleration."
Many times, it's needing one group of contractors to speed up their work so another group can start theirs.
Those sorts of accelerations, including second shift work and weekend work, happen in all projects, including this one, Pear said.
The weather hasn't been the only challenge while remodeling the 42-year-old facility, which has included construction during the season as well as demolition during construction (once last season ended).
There have been several surprises along the way.
Pear, who has overseen construction of the Joe Craft Center as well as UK's softball and soccer complexes and the track and field facility, said Commonwealth Stadium "has been a different animal" altogether.
It's equaled a wealth of change orders and added expenses.
For example, over the years UK officials and staff would request electrical lines be run or data lines added, but those changes don't always find their way onto schematics.
"Well, we've found every one of those (changes)," Pear said. "Those things sometimes were major. Sometimes they weren't."
Most of the additions and changes in cost of construction outlined in the open records request involved new sanitary sewer lines or additional costs for handrails or electrical services or more fencing.
But the documents also showed a few gems such as:
■ An $82,497 addition to add 150 new electrical combo devices so that each "loge patron will have access to power and communications outlets for the use of modern electronic equipment."
■ An additional $31,457 for labor and materials to install 18 TV monitors in main concourses, upper concourses as well as the press level and roof level.
■ Several convenience outlets in premium women's restrooms for "accessible stalls and storage space to help facilitate private breast feeding." That added $2,095 to the project.
As with most construction projects, there has been some give and take financially, but UK will finish the project somewhere near the $126 million that has been allotted for it, Pear said.
"What I've always tried to do with every project I've done is spend it like it's mine," he said. That's meant different finishes to cut costs or using some donated items among other things.
The project's manager hopes the end result will be something special. His favorite part is the feeling he gets when he walks into the stadium from the corner where the team used to enter the stadium and seeing the massive structure that overlooks the new turf field.
"You see the field and you see the change there and you see that this is just a personality change," Pear said. "I'm hopeful when everyone starts moving in they will think, 'This was done right.'"
So far, Pear has had at least one satisfied customer.
Kentucky's coach beamed as he talked about the renovated facility.
"The stadium is gonna be fantastic," Stoops said after the Governor's Cup Luncheon in Frankfort. "Just greatly impressed with what we've done. I think it's gonna be very fan friendly in just the amenities that we're gonna have for the fans, and some of the decks and some of the viewing points are outstanding."