Washington begins renovation of Husky Stadium

BY foxsports • November 7, 2011

In less than 48 hours, Husky Stadium went from football field to construction site.

Washington broke ground Monday on its $250 million renovation of Husky Stadium, an 18-month project that will kick the Huskies out of the 91-year-old building until September 2013.

''This is truly a project built by the fans and for the fans and for that we are truly, truly grateful,'' Washington President Michael Young said.

The renovation funding is to include $50 million in private donations. According to documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, the school already has $17.9 million of that in hand.

The school says it has nearly $44 million total in signed pledges. The school says many of its donors plan to spread their donations over a five-year period, but there was no set total needed to break ground on the project, only internal goals for the fundraising efforts.

''It's exceeded our expectations in this climate and this economy,'' Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said. ''We put very aggressive goals out to really create a sense of urgency and there is a sense of urgency and it's always going to be difficult to raise money, but I feel very confident we'll be able to reach our $50 million goal.''

The largest donation the school has received so far is $6 million and the university has six total donations of $1 million or more thus far. The other $200 million needed for the project will be paid through sales of premium seating and luxury boxes in the new stadium.

Washington closed out Husky Stadium on Saturday night with a 34-17 loss to No. 6 Oregon. The Huskies will play the Apple Cup against rival Washington State on Nov. 26 and all the 2012 season across town at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. The Huskies will return to their renovated stadium for the 2013 season, beginning with a game against Boise State.

University and athletic department officials gathered in the west end zone of the stadium for Monday's groundbreaking event.

As part of the initial preparations for the stadium demolition, a tunnel that was used for visiting teams in the early days of the stadium was unearthed. Washington officials believe the tunnel - underneath the southwest stands - was sealed up and not used after 1927.

The lower bowl that remains from the initial construction and the upper deck on the south side - constructed in 1950 - will all be replaced.

The most drastic change to the stadium - taking down the south upper deck - will be done in phases beginning this winter.

''It's not just a facelift. It's not just a renovation,'' said Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad & Company, the group in charge of the project. ''It's a new stadium.''

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