LEXINGTON ― Designs for the $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium were revealed Monday afternoon at a news conference at the Nutter Field House.
Media and several hundred fans were in attendance to see artist renderings of the remade facility, which will have a new look both inside and outside. The stadium design will have a Kentucky feel, using resources such as Kentucky limestone and reclaimed barn wood. With the goal of providing a more engaging and intimate atmosphere, the new stadium will seat approximately 61,000.
On the outside, the stadium will sport a new decorative exterior and there will be new landscaping around the stadium and parking areas. Inside the facility, the stadium concourses will be widened, making it easier for fans to get to their seats and other destinations. New restrooms and concession stands will be constructed, enhancing the comfort and convenience for all in attendance.
There will be new premium seating options on the south side of the stadium, including clubs at the field level and mezzanine level plus new loge boxes. A new training table for student-athletes will be housed in the hospitality areas. The hospitality areas also will be available to the Big Blue Nation as rentable spaces for special events outside of game days.
A new sideline suite level will be constructed atop the south stands and will contain approximately 20 luxury suites. A new press box will be above the suite level with areas for media seating, television and radio broadcasts and additional VIP seating.
The Wildcat players, both present and future, also will benefit. State-of-the-art construction will feature a new game-day locker room, new training room and new multi-purpose recruiting room in the east end zone. On game day, the Wildcats will run on the field from under the east end zone seating area which will be the new seating section.
The stadium renovations were a part of Kentucky House Bill 7, which was approved last January and also featured a $100 million science building for UK. No state money is involved in this project. All of the stadium financing, and approximately $65 million of the science building, will be paid for by UK Athletics.
Governor Steve Beshear spoke at Monday’s event, along with Senate President Robert Stivers; House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly; University President Dr. Eli Capilouto; football player Avery Williamson; and C.B. Akins, member of the UK Board of Trustees and chair of the University Athletics Committee.
“This stadium upgrade will ensure the continued financial success of UK football—an integral part to a truly self-sustaining athletics program that also funds millions of dollars to the university’s academic programming,” said Gov. Beshear. “I am proud to have supported the agency bond legislation that is making this renovation possible and I congratulate UK’s officials and leaders for taking this visionary action.”
Gerardo Prado, principal architect of construction firm HNTB, reviewed key points of the artist renderings. Head coach Mark Stoops spoke on how the project will have an impact on the UK football program, in the process announcing five high school signees who will enroll in January. Athletic director Mitch Barnhart was the final speaker, followed by a question-and-answer session with the media.
“This is a historic time for Kentucky football,” Barnhart said. “The vision we have long worked toward is taking shape and Commonwealth Stadium will be transformed for the 2015 football season. When the Wildcats take the field and fans fill the stands for our eight home games in 2015, I believe you will be proud of the new home we have created together for Kentucky football.”
Construction begins in December, primarily with utility and other site preparation work. The majority of the construction will occur after the 2014 season following the final home game Nov. 8 against Georgia.
The only seating displacement in 2014 will occur in the upper level of the south stands, with approximately 2,000 seats being affected in rows 22-39 of sections 219-232. Fans in those seats will be contacted in December and will be offered a variety of alternative seating options for the ’14 season.
During the early months of 2014, there will be additional information about the fan seating process for the 2015 season. In addition to the premium seating options available, UK will continue to offer approximately 25,000 seats that will be at the current $100 K Fund level (plus cost of season ticket) or have no K Fund requirement.
Fans are encouraged to renew or purchase new season tickets for 2014 in order to give themselves priority for 2015. More information is currently available at www.theNewCWS.com and the site will be updated periodically with information on tickets, premium seating and the progress of stadium construction.