Notre Dame looks to start stadium construction in 2014
Matthew DeFranks | Wednesday, January 29, 2014
The University is hoping to begin massive construction on Notre Dame Stadium after the conclusion of the 2014 football season, University President Fr. John Jenkins said in an interview with The Observer.
The Notre Dame Board of Trustees has endorsed a plan to build three buildings totaling 750,000 square feet that will surround the Stadium. The project, titled the “Campus Crossroads Project,” is expected to cost $400 million, Jenkins said.While gaining the Board’s endorsement is a big step forward for the University, Jenkins said Notre Dame would still need to raise the funds for the project. Notre Dame’s policy to have 100 percent of the funding promised and 50 percent in hand before construction begins.
“We need to find benefactors who will support this project because we won’t go ahead unless the funding is in place,” Jenkins said. “So, it’s contingent on that. We’re optimistic about getting that done. … But until we get that, we can’t say definitely, we’re doing it.”
Jenkins said about half of the funding would come from benefactors and the rest would come from various sources, including revenue from football tickets. The project would not be funded by revenue from existing seating, a release from the University said.
Student ticket prices would not be directly influenced due to the new construction, instead the new premium seating (3,000 to 4,000 additional club seats) would help fund the project, Jenkins said.
According to Jenkins, the project is expected to take 33 months from start to finish but the Irish will still be playing all scheduled home games in the Stadium. Ideally, Jenkins said the University would make the decision to go ahead with the project in August and start building after Notre Dame’s home finale against Louisville in November.
Commencement ceremonies, which are typically held in Notre Dame Stadium, may have to be moved elsewhere during the 33-month construction, possibly the Joyce Center, Jenkins said.
“I don’t want to say because it’s not definite yet,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to play football there, but there may be a problem with graduation so we’ll have to gather people together and see what we need to do.”
Jenkins said the University would need South Bend’s approval but that he expects they won’t take exception to it.
The University expects to employ all local construction trades locally, spokesperson Paul Browne said. Notre Dame could also contract some Chicago-area companies to help with construction.
“The demand for skilled trades and crafts building will probably exhaust the local area and beyond,” Browne said. “But who the entities doing that, whether it’s Chicago or elsewhere, that hasn’t been decided yet.”
Jenkins said Notre Dame would look first towards South Bend for construction companies.
“I know primarily we are going to look [in South Bend], we want to give the opportunities for jobs to the local community,” Jenkins said. “I know we’ve worked with these companies before. My understanding is this project will just tap out all of the available resources, so I don’t know if we will need to go beyond that. We’re certainly going to start here.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding said the companies 360, Slam and Workshop Architects have been some of the firms Notre Dame has worked with so far.
Last May, Notre Dame commissioned a feasibility study to decide if additional buildings were needed around the Stadium. Jenkins said the University had a concept that evolved over time.
“What we had to do is ask ‘What are our needs?’” Jenkins said. “What are our needs for buildings? We had a strategic plan and each of the buildings we’re envisioning were part of that plan. They were envisioned as these were the things we need. We don’t know where it’s going to be. We don’t know the design. These are the facilities we need. So our question is ‘Could our needs fit this structure?’”
Jenkins said the original plan was to have buildings on all four sides of Notre Dame Stadium but only ones on the east, south and west sides are in the plans. He said Hesburgh Library and “Touchdown Jesus” could have been kept visible with a building there but there simply was not a need for one.