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Wallace Wade Stadium Closing Dec. 1

Multi-phase renovation to upgrade 85-year-old stadium begins


Artist rendering of stadium upgrades to be completed by 2016. Click image to enlarge.

The first phase of construction to modernize Wallace Wade Stadium begins Dec. 1 when the stadium will close to the public until the start of the 2015 season.

Wallace Wade’s east concourse, seating bowl and running track will not be accessible as construction crews begin to permanently remove the running track to lower the playing field by 5 feet and add 3,000 seats to create a seating bowl closer to the field.

A second phase of construction will begin on the west and north sides of the stadium Feb. 1 with the demolition of the Finch-Yeager Building and creation of the new Wallace Wade Tower. After that date, the stadium will be closed to the public and will not reopen until the start of the 2015 football season. Going forward, a new track facility adjacent to Koskinen Stadium will be available for exercise opportunities.

The multi-phase project is part of a $100-million upgrade to campus athletic facilities – funded by the Duke Forward fundraising campaign – and will enhance the game-day experience for fans and student-athletes. The stadium upgrades, which are scheduled to continue through 2016, will be strategically planned during the off-season and around home games. Even after all construction is complete in 2016, Wallace Wade will remain closed for public use with the exception of games and special events.

“We’re building a championship football program, and our home, Wallace Wade Stadium, has had no significant upgrade over the past 80 years,” Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe said. “As we improve our success on the field, we must also pay attention and improve the game day amenities our fans deserve and have come to expect when attending a Division I football game.”

As construction begins and continues, community members are urged to follow pedestrian routing signs around the stadium.

Here are the Wallace Wade Stadium upgrades:

Cheer in new stadium seats

Fold-down, Duke-blue chairs with armrests have replaced 50-year-old aluminum bleachers on the east side of the stadium, just in time for this football season. The new chairs are in sections 3 (odd) through 10 (even). Handrails have been added to aisles, and construction workers completed the first accessible stadium box seating area, where fans who use wheelchairs or have other mobility needs will have an unobstructed view of the field. By 2016, fold-down seats will fill 18 sections of the stadium bowl, and more wheelchair-accessible seating will be added to the stadium at the field and concourse levels.

Get closer to the action 

After home games end Nov. 29, workers will begin removing the running track around the field and lowering the playing field by 5 feet. “When they built the stadium in 1928, the field is where it is because there’s rock right underneath,” said Paul Manning, the director of Duke’s Office of Project Management. “We’re going to have to dig up the rock, which is a lot easier today than it was in 1928.” A transformed field will allow for the alignment of the 50-yard line with the center of the bowl. New seating sections with ADA-accessible seating areas will be built in the West, North and East sides of the field. Removing the running track and adding about 3,000 seats will create a seating bowl closer to the field, providing a sense of intimacy reminiscent of Cameron. “When you’re in the front row, you are right in the action, and the experience is much more exciting,” Manning said. Estimated completion is the start of the 2015 season.

Catch the replay 

Around August 2015, a state-of-the-art multimedia video board with an HD LED screen that is 42 feet tall and 75 feet wide will be constructed on the south end of the stadium. The board will feature an improved sound system and graphics for live action video and replays. “It’s all about amenities and the fan experience, and hopefully making it a louder and better place where people want to be,” said Mike Cragg, deputy director of athletics and operations.

New tower with press box, club suites

The 1970s Finch-Yeager Building, which is on the west side of Wallace Wade and houses the Duke Sports Medicine Center, will be demolished after the 2014 football season. Plans include building a new 90,000-square-foot, four-story tower that will house a new presidential suite, 20 private suites and network broadcast space. The tower is scheduled to be complete in August 2016, in time for football season. The concourse level will house about 3,400 square feet of concessions space, four men’s and women’s restrooms and four single-family restrooms, which will be accessible by all fans. The second floor will offer about 990 club-level seats, including private suites, a dining area and outside balcony seating. The third floor will be home to the president’s suite, a lounge and private suites. The fourth floor will include the press box, coaches’ boxes, operational space and network broadcast space.

New concessions, restrooms, ticketing  

The North Gate will serve as the largest entry point for games and include updated will call windows, ticket sales area and new entry technology. North Gate renovations are estimated to be complete in the summer of 2016, and a pedestrian plaza adjacent to Cameron Indoor Stadium will connect the stadium to campus. Fans will enjoy new concession stands, restrooms and an overall facelift to the East Gate corridor. The renovations include about 4,800 square feet of concessions space, new men’s and women’s restrooms, and four single-family restrooms. “Throughout the construction, we’re going to have temporary concessions, temporary toilets, temporary pathways,” said Paul Manning, the director of Duke’s Office of Project Management. “If you see these improvements being done, I think everyone will have the right attitude and understand as we transform an old relic into a fan-friendly, football-centric and happening place.”

In-stadium technology upgrades

Duke’s Office of Information Technology is working closely with Athletics to create an enhanced experience for fans at Wallace Wade Stadium. Upgrades to the stadium’s technology infrastructure and systems will be phased in throughout construction. Cellular and Wi-Fi network improvements will occur after the field lowering phase of the project, and improvements to video displays, ticketing and other aspects will be phased in throughout the remainder of construction.