A Dominant and Spectacular Transformation
Randy York's N-Sider
On a beautiful spring day, John Ingram grabbed a camera and took me to his favorite new vantage point – the middle of the north side of NU’s soccer field. He considers it the best place to gaze at an emerging East Stadium structure that keeps climbing higher into a blue Nebraska sky.
You can see new curves winding their way in front of old columns. Skyscraping cranes have accelerated NU’s newest expansion project and have put it roughly three months ahead of the same process Ingram supervised 14 years ago when the Athletic Department expanded the West Stadium.
“This is where you can really see the magnitude of this project,” Ingram said. “You can see how different the curves and columns are and what the cranes have already done and compare it to where they’ll end up.”
Ingram's photo shows how private crews have erected enough steel to support construction 80 feet high, and that’s only half as high as this project will go when 38 suites and roughly 6,100 new seats will be built and installed over the next 15 to 18 months.
We ask Ingram, Nebraska’s associate athletic director for Capital Planning and Construction, what he sees when he looks at the East expansion right now. “I see history,” he said. “I see completion of the stadium, and it’s massive. I see tradition. I see power. I see a structure that will be dominant. We’re reinforcing the foundations for our future. We’re building on our tradition, and I think it’s going to be spectacular.”
Oldfather Oversees New Construction
When construction crews add on that next 80 feet of steel, it will enable fans to sit in the new upper regions of the East Stadium at almost the same eye level as the top floors of nearby Oldfather Hall, the 190-foot-tall structure built 42 years ago.
Back in his office, Ingram shows me construction photos that were taken during the 1998 West Stadium expansion, comparing first month to first month and each subsequent month. When he shares March 1998 to March 2012, there is no comparison. But there is when you compare March 2012 to June 1998. That’s when it hits you how two similar projects got out of the starting blocks at the same time, but the second makeover is nearly three full months ahead of the first makeover.
“Is that because of the weather?” I ask. “We’ve definitely had great weather to work with this year,” Ingram answers. “But we’re ahead because we’ve already done something like this once before, and we installed the footings and the foundations during the season instead of waiting until after the season like we did with the West Stadium expansion.”
A Time-Lapse Video Tells the Story
Using aerial photos from Doug Prange to record the history of East Stadium expansion, Kelly Mosier has produced a time-lapse video for Huskers.com, compressing the fast-moving images to show the project's dramatic progress.
“It’s so dramatic, it almost looks like animation,” Ingram said. “But it’s all real. I think I’ll scan these pictures and send them to our project team, so they can see how far ahead we are. I don’t think we’ll be bolting down seats on the same day we’re playing our first game like we did with the West Stadium expansion. The East Stadium expansion should be done a full two months ahead.”
Ingram has Aug. 31, 2013, circled on his calendar – the day Wyoming visits Lincoln and looks across the field at a fully expanded and completed East Stadium. In Ingram’s mind, that promises to be a day when all Husker fans will celebrate an historic, massive, dominant and absolutely spectacular transformation.
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