Academics, connectivity push Notre Dame Stadium renovation

Academics, connectivity push Notre Dame Stadium renovation
January 29, 2014, 9:45 am
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Notre Dame Stadium is getting a $400 million refresh.

The University of Notre Dame announced Wednesday morning a comprehensive renovation plan for its venerable football stadium that calls for the the construction of three buildings on the east, south and west sides of the venue. Those three buildings will total 750,000 square feet of space to be used, in part, for academics -- Notre Dame announced the expansion will also coincide with 80 new faculty members being hired.

Fans will have greater access to video in the stadium, though how it'll be delivered is to be determined. Renderings of the renovations would seem to place a video board on the south end of the stadium, which is the only logical location for it with club seating on the east and west sides and the iconic "Touchdown Jesus" towering over the north end. The part of Notre Dame's release on video reads:

"Football fans, especially younger ones, have expressed a clear desire to have better access to data and video when attending Notre Dame games. Some of that will be addressed through enhanced broadband connectivity and some by the introduction of video, though the shape that will take has not yet been finalized."

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Notre Dame Stadium, which opened in 1930 and was last renovated in 1997, currently does not have a video board for replays, stats or in-game ceremonies. In keeping with university policy for athletic venues, no signage/advertising will be added to Notre Dame Stadium.

About 3,000-4,000 new premium club seats will be added, which would bring the stadium's capacity to around 85,000.

The renovations are expected to begin in at least two years and will take 33 months to complete.

“At a time when some are questioning the future of the residential college campus, we believe the investment in these new facilities, which will house new research and teaching venues, several academic departments, a much-expanded student center, a digital media center and a variety of hospitality and programming spaces, will greatly enhance the campus experience for all those who study, live, work here and visit Notre Dame, as well as new amenities that will deliver outstanding game day experiences for Irish fans," Rev. John J. Jenkins, C.S.C, Notre Dame's president, said in a statement. "Since its founding, one of Notre Dame’s greatest assets has been the boldness of its vision – the ability to see possibilities and connections where others saw only obstacles and fragmentation. This project continues that boldness of vision.”

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For the athletic department that preaches the marriage of sports and academics, adding classroom space to Notre Dame Stadium is a major win for its mission.

"At a time when so many would call into question the viability of the collegiate sports model in America, it is fitting that Notre Dame, a perennial leader in the measures of academic performance by student-athletes, offers a bold vision providing emphatic evidence that the full integration of athletics into the academic mission of a university is not only possible but desirable," athletic director Jack Swarbrick said. “Coach Brian Kelly and I are thrilled that one of the most famous sports venues in the world will now also be known as one of the most innovative educational facilities.”

Below is a full rendering of the proposed renovations to Notre Dame Stadium (click the image for full size):

The complete details of the renovation, via Notre Dame's release:

West building

Space designed to enhance student development and formation will dominate the nine-story west building. Planning has ensured that the new facility will complement the student organization space and administrative offices located in the historic LaFortune Student Center.

Levels 1 and 2: Flexible, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, graduate and undergraduate student lounges, a dining area, student organization space and administrative offices.
Levels 3 and 4: Recreational sports and fitness facilities (the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center will become the practice home for the men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams).
Level 5: A career services center, centralized and expanded with more than 40 interview rooms, multiple training rooms and conference areas, an employer lounge and advising offices. The existing working press space on this level will be integrated into a premium seating area for the stadium.
Level 6: Mechanical support.
Level 7: A 500-seat student ballroom, club seating for football and booths for NBC Sports telecasts of home football games. Student-oriented programming will have priority booking for non-game weekends.
Level 8: Premium stadium seats and terraces that will look onto the campus and the playing field.
Level 9: Club seating, boxes for home and visiting coaches, security booths and boxes for administrative and athletic department leaders.
Basement: Food service space for the three new buildings and the stadium.

South building

The relocation of the Department of Music and Sacred Music program will provide much needed new and state-of-the-art space for these growing programs. It also will put music into close proximity to other performing arts departments and programs.

Level 1: Recital and rehearsal halls and the Leahy gate grand entrance to the stadium.
Level 2: A large music library, to be relocated from the Hesburgh Library, classrooms and rehearsal and tutoring rooms.
Level 3: A club/lounge.
Level 4: Department of Music offices, practice rooms and storage.
Level 5: The Sacred Music Program, offices, organ practice rooms and storage.
Level 6: Mechanical, with a scoreboard on the exterior.

East building

Offices and laboratories for the Departments of Anthropology and Psychology, which are housed in a variety of buildings on campus, now will be in one place and located closer to other social sciences departments, the College of Science and international institutes.

Level 1: A digital media center with a 2,000-square-foot studio and production, teaching, learning, research and scholarship facilities for use by faculty, students, University Communications, athletics and information technology will position Notre Dame as a national leader in what is a rapidly expanding and increasingly important component of higher education. A control room will support faith-based programming, such as Masses at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, as well as athletics events, performing arts presentations and academic lectures and speeches.
Level 2: Anthropology offices, administrative space, conference and tutoring areas and multi-function research and teaching labs.
Levels 3, 4 and 5: Psychology offices, classrooms, labs, computer rooms and a student lounge.
Level 6: Mechanical support.
Level 7: Outdoor club seating for football, outdoor terraces and a large space that will double as a club area and flexible classroom.
Level 8: Outdoor club seating for football.
Level 9: Working press box, radio booths and a club area with indoor and outdoor premium seating for football.