Kansas State says stadium construction to be done by football opener

04/25/2013 12:08 PM

04/26/2013 7:18 AM

John Currie has heard the questions.

Kansas State demolished the old press box and club seating at Snyder Family Stadium in December and is scheduled to open a state-of-the-art replacement in time for the season opener against North Dakota State on Aug. 30. Can a massive renovation project like that be completed in eight months?

The answer, Currie insists, is yes. Construction is ahead of schedule. To illustrate his point, the K-State athletic director pointed out the purple walls of a concourse restroom while guiding media on a tour of the construction site Thursday morning.

“People ask if this is going to be done by Aug. 30,” Currie said. “Well, they are already painting the walls. That’s how much progress we have made.”

Not every area of the stadium renovation is painted, of course. The majority of the project is naked steel frames. Walls still need to go up, windows need to be inserted and concrete continues to be poured. But the massive cranes that hovered over the stadium during early stages of construction are gone, and the structure’s frame is in place. It’s easy to get a sense for how the finished product will look.

When construction is complete, K-State will have a state-of-the-art press box and luxury suites than span the length of the field and offers fans added club-level seating, suites, wider terraces, larger restrooms, brighter lights, a Hall of Honor and much more space to meet and move around during games.

Construction was projected to cost $75 million, but Currie said K-State will exceed that number because of the rising cost of steel and K-State’s desire to add extras onto the project. Maintaining the new press box will also require more personnel, which will raise the athletic department staff from about 130 to 150.

“We have been able to manage this project without sacrificing quality,” Currie said. “Steel price has gone up, but we have still added onto the project.”

Bill Hedge, who is serving as construction executive at the stadium, said his team is facing a difficult deadline, but says it hasn’t been too much to handle. With a crew of more than 280 showing up daily, significant progress can be made in a short time.

“We call it the dash for cash,” Hedge said. “Everything has gone smoothly. Everything is on schedule.”

Ticket sales for new luxury options are also doing well. Boosters long ago reserved the 41 private suites, but loge boxes and club-level seats have also been popular with fans.

Currie said 150 club-level seats remain out of 700.

“It is incredible to think we are this far along in ticket sales with months to go before the season starts,” Currie said. “We are well ahead of projections.”

Other perks of the renovations: restroom capacity will double, stadium lights will be twice as bright as last season and Ahearn Fund members can enjoy a “Tailgate Terrace” before, during and after games. Currie hopes fans also like significantly wider concourses.

Student-athletes will also benefit from meals at a new Performance Table, but Currie said K-State won’t begin serving athletes food there regularly until January.

Construction will continue at a furious pace through August. Workers are scheduled to complete the facility’s roof Wednesday and the building’s exterior on Aug. 1.

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