The pounding of construction heard across campus this semester is the sweet sound of a bigger football stadium, rising from the dust to the tune of $70 million dollars as Tiger Stadium renovations near the early stages of completion.
The initial work of driving piles to begin the South End Zone expansion, which caused much of the noise on campus this semester, has been completed. Additionally, 98 percent of the utility work needed for the South End Zone expansion has been completed.
However, Senior Associate Athletic Director Eddie Nunez said the portion of South Stadium Drive that runs from South Campus Drive to West Stadium Road and in front of the Office of Parking, Traffic and Transportation will remain closed for the majority of the South End Zone construction project, which is on target to be completed by fall 2014.
“As soon as we have more flexibility, we will be able to open it up,” Nunez said. “A lot of it depends on where we are for construction.”
According to the Tiger Athletic Foundation website, the South End Zone Addition project will add 60 suites, 3,000 club seats and about 1,500 general public seats above the existing south end zone bowl. The addition will also include two new HD corner scoreboards.
The next step of the expansion is to construct the support structure that will hold the new upper deck of the South End Zone, Nunez said.
“We are moving forward and trying to get the framework ready to come out of the ground,” Nunez said.
The support framework will be similar to the structures that currently support the upper levels of the stadium and are not directly connected to the stadium.
This framework has already started to come out of the ground in the far southeast corner of the stadium.
“It will not be touching the existing stadium in terms of being able to hold a massive structure,” Nunez said.
He said contractors are working on the South End Zone Addition project seven days a week with only a few minor hiccups — nothing that would upset the fall 2014 completion date.
“It is going to take a while before you start seeing something that looks like a complete version,” Nunez said. “It is going to look like a slow process, but it is actually moving quite fast.”
Nunez also said the North Stadium Plaza project is going well, despite initial setbacks due to heavy rain in January.
The North Stadium Plaza renovations, which are separate from the South End Zone expansion, are similar to those made at the West Stadium Plaza entrance that were completed before the 2012 football season.
Currently, workers are in the process of completing the canopies over the gates and will be doing a lot of paving and landscaping over the next several weeks to dress up the area.
“There is a big list of things to complete, so we hope the weather continues to cooperate,” Nunez said.
Nunez said he expects the North Stadium Plaza renovations to be completed this summer, weather permitting, which puts the renovations ahead of the scheduled fall 2013 completion date.