June 7, 2005
Trustees approve plan to renovate Stanford Stadium
By Ray Delgado
The university's Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a plan to renovate Stanford Stadium to make it a more intimate sporting venue with modern amenities.
The trustees approved a concept plan presented by the Department of Athletics that will eliminate about 30,000 seats, bring existing stands closer to the field and modernize almost all facilities housed within the stadium, among other improvements. If approved by Santa Clara County, construction would begin after the 2005 football season ends on Nov. 26 and hopefully be completed in time for the 2006 season the following summer. The cost of the project is expected to be around $85 million.
"This plan looks terrific," said Burton McMurtry, chair of the Board of Trustees. "This has been percolating for a long time, and it's only recently that some wonderful ideas evolved."
Officials hope that the construction process can be accelerated so that the football team will not have to play any home games elsewhere, and university officials will work with community members to minimize the impacts of construction.
"During the summer, we will be working closely with Santa Clara County as the permitting agency to resolve questions that may arise during their review of the plans," said Jean McCown, director of community relations. "We also intend to consult with neighbors, the city of Palo Alto and campus residents regarding the project, particularly with respect to steps we plan to take to avoid potential impacts of the construction process itself."
A stadium renovation has been a high priority for Athletic Department and university officials, especially after a 2002 feasibility study indicated that much of the 84-year-old stadium's infrastructure had reached the end of its service life. According to the study, restroom and concession facilities were considered outdated and inadequate; the relationship of the field to the stands created substandard sightlines that rendered the first 14 rows unusable, partly because of the presence of a running track; and guest circulation and access was problematic because of extensive stairs and the narrowness of the corridors that guests use to get around the stadium.
The stadium, originally designed with engineering techniques borrowed from 2,000-year-old amphitheaters unearthed in Pompeii, also contained too many seats (85,800), the study found. There are many football games during which the stadium appears cavernous and less than half full, the study noted, and modern stadium criteria have trended toward smaller capacities closer to the action.
The proposed plan would address all of those issues while trying to maintain the architectural character of the stadium by retaining the earthen berm and the current extensive landscaping. Crews also would replace mechanical, plumbing, electrical and life-safety infrastructure with code-compliant systems.
If approved, the project will expand the facility by 30,693 gross square feet that will be allocated from the General Use Permit entitlement. The number of seats will be reduced to 50,858, and disabled-accessible seating will be increased to comply with federal guidelines. New restrooms, concessions and a press box also will be constructed.
"We are very excited about today's announcement and appreciate the support from the university for this project," Stanford Director of Athletics Ted Leland said. "This renovation will benefit both our student-athletes and our fans for years to come by creating an exciting atmosphere to play and watch football. We plan to give our community a first-rate facility to experience the thrill of collegiate football."