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Through These Gates: Our Past, Present and Future
Nebraska's 89-year-old Memorial Stadium is undergoing a dominant and spectacular transformation.
Photo Courtesy Kelly Mosier/NU Media Relations
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
04/13/2012
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Check out the enormity of NU’s East Stadium expansion

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Randy York's N-Sider

When an estimated 60,000 fans head to Memorial Stadium Saturday for Nebraska's 1 p.m. Spring Game, the vast majority might be inclined to stop in their tracks, do a quick double-take of the East Stadium and realize that not only Through These Gates Pass the Greatest Fans in College Football, but also Through These Gates pass fans who will be experiencing a rarity.

Saturday marks a moment in time when fans can see our past in the rawest of form, enjoy the present as we gear up for our second year in the Big Ten Conference and envision the future of a fully grown-up stadium with every bell and whistle we need to maintain our double-barreled reputation of 1) being the only venue in NCAA history - in any sport - to sell out 50 consecutive years; and 2) being the stadium that many consider to have the best game-day experience in college football.

The awesome wonder of Nebraska's $63.5 million East Stadium expansion won't get the red-carpet treatment until the Huskers host Wyoming on Aug. 31, 2013, but you can bet that fans will be more than a bit awed Saturday by what's already in place. Blake Thomas, associate principal of The Clark Enersen Partners, the Lincoln-based architectural firm in charge of the expansion, provided some rather staggering facts that are definitely worth checking out in this compelling Huskers.com graphic.

It is fun to write about the enormity of the Huskers' extreme makeover underway, but that graphic speaks volumes about what it takes to bring the old and the new together with simplicity and elegance.

The Numbers Are Simply Staggering

Thomas told us the new construction requires more than 2 million square feet of drywall, more than 40,000 square feet of masonry and more than 200,000 square feet of acoustical panel ceiling tiles. The project also includes 228 wood doors, 58 hollow metal doors, 144 toilets, 55 urinals, 172 sinks and 18 triple-compartment sinks. The upper concourse will be 115' 8" above the main concourse level and 131' 8" above the field.

There will be 15 rows of seats above the suite level, giving the East Stadium an intimidating view for visiting teams looking across the field and then up. The two largest beams on the project are 8' 2" tall, 65' long and weigh 44,265 pounds each. You also might find it interesting that the heaviest loaded column supports about 3.2 million pounds.

I'm no Frank Lloyd Wright, but a 29-foot cantilever will be a sweet sight below the suite level. A cantilever, a beam anchored only at one end, is a big deal in stadium construction because it supports a balcony without using columns that obstruct the view of fans sitting below. If you're looking for another wow stat, the boomerang shape columns supporting the upper seating bowl weigh about 10 tons each.

Once this project is finished, you'll see how Nebraska looks at tomorrow today and still finds a way to celebrate yesterday with creativity. And by the way, the East side will become iconic in Lincoln because it will be the only place in Memorial Stadium where concourses overlook the campus and connect an 89-year-old facility with the community.

We Know They Will Come Before We Build

I can't help but see this East Stadium expansion as the last chapter in Nebraska's version of the movie Field of Dreams. You know the old "If you build it, they will come" thought process. Well, This is Nebraska, so we knew in advance that demand would meet or exceed supply before we even began construction.

To date, Thomas tells us 795 tons of reinforcing steel has been shipped to Lincoln, and if you can't figure out what that means in your head, rest assured that it is equivalent to 105 fully loaded Apache Helicopters and five fully loaded B52 Bombers. Once you convert all that footage to another measurement, you will have approximately 210 miles of steel, enough to stretch from Lincoln to McCook, the hometown of former Major League Baseball Commissioner Gene Budig.

If you laid all that steel out flat and end-to-end, it would stretch almost from the South Dakota border to the Kansas border. No wonder John Ingram and Maggi Thorne of our Capital Planning and Construction Department consider this project a truly dominant and spectacular transformation.

Overall, we're talking 7 million pounds or 3,500 tons of steel. It takes 220 huge trucks just to get the steel to the project site. Some baseplates are 4½-inch-thick solid steel. Concrete panels weigh 3,788 tons (6,783,750 pounds). That's enough concrete to cover the football field 11 inches deep.

Need a Sidewalk from Lincoln to Omaha?

In terms of precast seating, Nebraska has enough concrete to cover the football playing field about 9½" thick. If you combine the building foundations, walls and floor slabs, you're using enough concrete to build a sidewalk from Lincoln to Omaha.

Did we forget to tell you about all the glass that will make this new structure truly iconic when national television cameras show a panoramic view of the fully remodeled stadium? There will be 42,000 square feet of glass weighing more than 273,000 pounds (136 tons). Makes you wonder how many Ndamukong Suhs that represents, doesn't it?

Last, but certainly not least, we have 154 aluminum doors weighing 12,990 pounds. Take all those doors and put them end to end, and that would be 1,199 feet over all - the equivalent of going up the side of the State Capitol building three times, and remember at 400 feet, our State Capitol is one of the tallest in the United States.

The N-Sider fully recognizes all that jazz is more than you ever wanted, but if you've taken the time to read it all, we believe that you'll think a little deeper when you go Through These Gates. When you do, you'll know what we mean when you see our past, our present and our future ... all at the same time.

Send a comment or a story idea to ryork@huskers.com

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