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Stadium restoration approved

Kate Antonacci | Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Board of Trustees (BOT) recently approved a restoration project to begin this spring on one of the University’s most well-known, and most visited, campus spots – Notre Dame Stadium.

“Notre Dame Stadium is a legendary landmark in American athletics, home to more Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans than any other football venue in the nation,” Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves said in a statement. “It is incumbent upon us to both preserve a building that is filled with many special memories for our athletes, students, alumni and fans, and ensure its structural integrity for decades to come. We will do that in a way that is architecturally consistent, technically thorough, and fiscally prudent.”

A four-phase, four-year project to repair parts of the original bowl of Notre Dame Stadium, which has been the home of Irish football since 1930, was deemed necessary by consultants with knowledge about stadiums, said James Lyphout, vice president for business operations.

“The original seating bowl is 75 years old and has been exposed to the elements, including thousands of freeze/thaw temperature cycles, during its life,” Lyphout said. “Over time in this climate, structures such as the stadium require maintenance.”

The freeze/thaw damage has led to the deterioration of the original seating bowl and the necessary repairs will be made over the next few years, Lyphout said.

“In this case, the waterproof membrane will be replaced and the concrete below it will be patched where necessary,” he said.

Work is expected to begin this spring on the east and northeast parts of the stadium, Lyphout said.

Repairs of the original bowl will continue in a counterclockwise pattern in off-seasons until 2009, according to the University statement.

“Fans can rest assured that, while these repairs must be made in a timely manner, the stadium itself is quite safe,” Doug Marsh, University architect, said in the statement. “The upcoming project is a proactive effort to ensure that this historic facility continues to serve the University for many years to come.”

Lyphout said the University worked with a variety of consultants knowledgeable about stadiums and other concrete structures of similar vintage

“We continually keep close tabs on the conditions of all University facilities and develop time lines for reinvestment in the form of remodeling and renovations,” he said. “The stadium is no different, and, as such, we have been monitoring its condition for many years.”

Lyphout said that cost projections for the project are still being developed.

“A portion of it will be paid with reserves established in an athletic facilities renewal fund,” he said.

From 1995-97, the University expanded the stadium to increase seating capacity from 59,075 to 80,795 by adding a new brick bowl around the old structure, the press release said.

“We wish to maintain Notre Dame Stadium for the long-term future and these steps are essential to achieve that. The repairs are very similar to the work that has been done to a variety of similar stadiums throughout the country, especially those in the north such as the Big Ten facilities,” Lyphout said.

While minor repairs were made to the original stadium during the expansion project, more repairs are now necessary, though unrelated to the expansion, he said.