August 29, 1998
Another milestone for Kentucky football will occur soon as Commonwealth Stadium will be expanded to a capacity of approximately 68,000 following the 1998 season.
Plans for an expansion have been researched in recent years, and the excitement and record crowds generated in Hal Mumme's first season pushed the project to the front burner.
The plan calls for both ends of Commonwealth Stadium to be enclosed, along with the construction of 40 luxury boxes, 10 in each corner of the stadium.
A total of $24 million has been allocated for the expansion. Phase I of the project was completed during the summer of 1997. Several of the restroom areas were renovated and the water service for the entire stadium was expanded in anticipation of the upcoming construction. Phase I was completed at a cost of $2.7 million.
Bids for the construction will be finalized in July of 1998. The work will begin during the 1998 season with the dismantling of the south end zone bleachers, but the addition of extra bleachers in the north end zone will help compensate for the loss. The entire project is set to be completed in time for the 1999 campaign.
The phenomenal response to last season's exciting Wildcats team helped UK set a single-season record average attendance of 59,110.
The accompanying drawings show an aerial view of the new stadium, an exterior view from the north parking lot, and field views toward both the north and south ends.
In regard to Commonwealth Stadium, the 1997 football season will be a time for looking back and looking forward.
Wildcats fans will look back as the school celebrates its 25th year in the stadium. It also is a time to look forward as the school administration makes the final decisions on the renovation and expansion of the stadium. UK has conducted feasibility studies and other research in preparation for finalizing plans.
A total of $24 million has been allocated for the project. The tentative plan is to increase seating capacity to a point between 60,000 and 70,000 by enclosing one or both ends of the stadium. In addition, luxury boxes and other fan-oriented facilities will be constructed.
Phase I of the project was completed during the summer of 1997. Several of the restroom areas were renovated and the water service for the entire stadium was expanded in anticipation of the upcoming construction. Phase I was completed at a cost of $2.7 million.
The 1997 season also will mark UK's first campaign under Hal Mumme, and the new coach eagerly awaits the opportunity to play in Commonwealth.
"Commonwealth Stadium is a beautiful place," Mumme said. "It's a very clean stadium, with great sight lines for the fans. The grass surface is topnotch. It's a great place for football."
Commonwealth Stadium has a current capacity of 57,800. It was completed at a cost of $12 million by the firm of Huber, Hunt, and Nichols. The stadium and parking areas rest on an 86-acre plot that was once the UK Experimental Station Farm grounds.
The most recent addition to the stadium was a $600,000 scoreboard and message center in the north end zone. The scoreboard is 19 by 78 feet in size.
The stadium was officially opened on Sept. 15, 1973, as the Wildcats moved into their new home after spending 48 years at Stoll Field/McLean Stadium across from Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky defeated Virginia Tech in the stadium opener, 31-26, as quarterback Ernie Lewis accounted for three touchdown passes to lead the Wildcats.
Since its opening, Kentucky has played 150 games within the friendly confines of Commonwealth Stadium. And indeed, an 82-64-4 record and a .560 winning percentage is evidence that Commonwealth is a home field advantage for the Wildcats.
Excellent attendance figures also have gone hand-in-hand with Kentucky football and Commonwealth Stadium. The Wildcats have averaged 54,037 fans in the 150 contests at Commonwealth since its inception. In fact, 8,105,510 spectators have witnessed Kentucky football at Commonwealth Stadium -- that's more than twice the population of Kentucky.
The five-millionth person to attend a UK football game at Commonwealth Stadium was Jack Crowe of Lexington. Mr. Crowe walked through the gate as number 5,000,000 at 1 p.m. on Oct. 3, 1987, as Kentucky hosted Ohio.
The official seating capacity at Commonwealth is 57,800, although standing-room only crowds will exceed that figure. A record crowd of 59,384 witnessed the 1996 season opener against Louisville.
All seating in Commonwealth Stadium is aluminum, with more than 30 percent of the aluminum seating either chair-back or bench-back.
An enclosed press box, which comfortably seats 110 members of the media, is located underneath the upper deck on the stadium's west side. Included in the press box area are eight private booths (four for VIPs), a photography deck, and two dining areas. The press box is served by two elevators.
Commonwealth Stadium was built in 1973 at a cost of $12 million by the firm of Huber, Hunt and Nichols,Inc. The stadium, including parking areas, rests on an 86 acre plot of what was once the UK Experimental Station Farm grounds. The stadium added a new $600,000 scoreboard and message center located in the North end zone in 1990. Kentucky officially opened the stadium on September 15, 1973 with a win over Virginia Tech, 31-26. The stadium has an official seating capacity of 57,800 with plans to enclose one end zone which would bring the capacity to 65,000.
Source: University of Kentucky Sports Information Office
KENTUCKY TO FOCUS ON STADIUM RENOVATION; OPEN TO ARENA PLANS
December 2, 2010
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Lexington, Ky. - The Lexington Herald Leader says University of Kentucky Athletics Director
Mitch Barnhart has singled out facilities as the No. 1 item on his to-do list for 2011.
Barnhart told the newspaper his primary focus will be renovations to Commonwealth Stadium.
The renovations would include the addition of club seating and more luxury suites; new
scoreboards; the construction of a multi-purpose recruiting room; upgrades to the concession-stand areas; and the addition of electronic monitors in the concourse areas and around the perimeter of the stadium.
Barnhart said the renovations would cost an estimated $150-180 million.
Barnhart said funding has already been approved for a new track for the track and field programs, and that construction is set to begin in March. Barnhart also hopes to build a new baseball facility and improve conditions for the softball team.
Barnhart also told the newspaper in an interview that he'd be open to discussing a new downtown basketball arena for UK but that it was up to the city of Lexington to make the next move.
Barnhart said the downtown arena initiative proposed two years ago by UK with sports marketing company IMG College fell through about a month ago.
That proposal called for a new basketball arena, a new campus baseball field and upgrades to Commonwealth Stadium with a total price tag between $300 million and $400 million, which was to be financed privately.
Barnhart said that once the city elected not to participate in conversations about a basketball arena, UK decided to move forward with its own plans for the renovation of Commonwealth Stadium and the baseball facility.
Lexington Mayor-Elect Jim Gray told the Herald Leader that despite the severe economic conditions, the city will continue to evaluate the possibility of a new downtown arena.