If all goes as planned, come fall 2013, the Cru football team will play in its own stadium, their first game actually played on campus after 15 years of having the program.
The university announced March 27 that the premier firm in sports architecture, Populous, has been hired to design a football stadium for the campus.
The architectural firm is well known in the sports world, having designed Yankee Stadium, Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center, Reliant Stadium and the new Dynamo Stadium.
The firm has had its share in the collegiate world too, working with more than 120 colleges and across the country.
President Randy O’Rear thinks the timing is good.
“It’s time to play football in our own stadium on our own campus,” he said.
Head Coach Pete Fredenberg is excited about the plans, which the program has wanted for years.
“We’ve always kind of thought the stadium would be cool in this area, but when you put the stadium with the student union building and see that venue, you just realize that is really a special idea and special concept,” he said.
O’Rear said the university informally considered other firms but decided to use Populous at the recommendation of friend of the university and owner of the Houston Astros Drayton McLane, Jr.
The lead architect for the project will be Earl Santee. He has a 26-year career with the firm and is recognized as one of the most experienced sports designers in the world.
Fredenberg had the opportunity to meet with Santee and was impressed.
“You immediately realize he is very astute and has great experience in dealing with all the different nuances of putting together a stadium,” he said.
In a statement released by the university, Santee said, “This distinctive project will merge student life and sports into an authentic experience in the heart of the campus. It’s more than just a football stadium – it’s redefining an entire
Fredenberg believes Santee brings life to the plans.
“He actually almost makes it come alive. He wants his buildings to make a statement, to leave every person that has been to the stadium with an impression. That is what separates him from just building a stadium,” he said.
The venue will be built in conjunction with a new student union building near the center of campus on University Drive.
O’Rear said the university is moving forward with several projects simultaneously because of the design of the new master plan.
“We view the football stadium and the new student union building more like they are one facility/building instead of two …. We are moving forward with the stadium now because it is a combination project and is very important for our future,” he said.
The stadium plans include up to 10,000 seats, locker rooms, concession areas, restroom facilities, press box, meeting rooms and suites for entertaining university guests.
While some may question the amount of seating, Fredenberg believes it is feasible to fill the number of seats.
“With the Hardin-Simmons ball game, I think we were close to 8,000 people,” he said.
Estimations in price for the stadium range $20 – $22 million.
Ground breaking is anticipated for early 2012 with the stadium being ready the following year.
“We are confident that we hired the right person and the right firm to design the stadium,” Fredenburg said. “The cost of the stadium is reasonable, especially when considering the tremendous benefits our campus community will enjoy from having this new facility on campus. We are thinking about the long-term future of the university.”
Fredenberg has no doubts about the plan’s influence for the program and university.
“I can’t help but think it’s going to be a recruiting advantage,” he said. “I think this says multitudes about the commitment from the university, not only to football and our program, but to the overall theme of everything on this campus.”
Fredenberg believes new the venue will represent the university well.
He said, “It’s going to be so good for the people that are participating … not just the players but the fans and the people that come to watch. It’s all about being a unique, great quality of life for all our students — athletes as well.”