Instant replay, faster history
Kyle Field to feature nation’s largest video screen, officials say
Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 00:02
Texas A&M will have the privilege of calling itself home to the largest college football stadium in the state upon the completion of the $450 million redevelopment of Kyle Field in 2015. And starting in September, Aggies can boast about having the biggest video board in collegiate athletics.
At a Kyle Field construction update Tuesday, the University announced the new 47-feet tall by 163-feet wide video board located above the newly constructed south end zone will top the current record-holder at the University of Texas’ by 224 square feet.
“The new scoreboard in the south end zone is projected to be the largest in collegiate athletics, almost twice the size of the scoreboard from last year,” said Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “You can see it in the rendering that it will be another intimidating factor in the redeveloped Kyle Field.”
The Aggies will also have a per-game attendance in 2014, if sold out, that will max out at 106,511, which would be good for the third-largest capacity among college footballs stadiums behind Michigan Stadium (109, 901) and Beaver Stadium at Penn State (106,572).
Sharp said he was excited to announce that the project is on schedule.
“I’m pleased to report the team that is working this monumental project is doing a great and fantastic job,” he said. “We’re both on-time and on-budget to open in the 2014 football season.”
With the student section and south end zone getting a facelift in the first phase of construction, one noticeable feature after three months into the project are “activation towers” at the corner of the east section.
Craig Kaufman, associate principal at architecture firm Populous, said these towers allow for entrance and exit points in the stadium. The north towers will feature ramps, stairs and escalators while the south towers will feature just ramps.
Greg McClure, project manager of construction company Manhattan-Vaughn, said all demolition and the lowering of the playing surface is complete, while most pier, great beam and foundation work is nearing completion.
“Starting in three weeks we will begin building the southern bowl and will work east to west,” McClure said. “That steel is being fabricated in four plants in the state of Texas and is being shipped here on a daily basis.”
The south end zone’s first deck will connect to the first deck of the student section, which has added six rows of seats to get students closer to the playing surface.
“When we first started working with the University we got to see the Aggie spirit and we got to understand the student’s traditional involvement in games and that’s something we did not want to negatively impact,” Kaufman said. “For this reason the second and third decks are remaining intact. We did however want the student experience to improve outside the stands.”
Kaufman said the concourses have been widened and there will be twice as many concessions on the student side. Most notably there will be new bathroom facilities with four times as many women’s bathrooms as there were in 2013.
By enclosing the south end zone, Kaufman said Kyle Field will be able to contain the sound of the 12th Man with the help of canopies above both the east and west sections.
“The canopies reflect crowd noise back onto the field,” he said. “The Seattle Seahawks actually used a similar concept on their stadium and this year they were able to break the Guinness Book of World Records for loudest stadium and I know for sure you guys are as loud as they are.”
McClure said the steel canopy above the student section will begin construction in late March with completion expected by mid-to-early summer. The playing field is expected to be completed in mid-summer with the sod ready for the first home game of the 2014 season on Sept. 6 against Lamar.
Sharp described 2014 as a “transition period” with the first phase of the $450 million redevelopment in full-swing while outlining provisions the Kyle Field Committee and Board of Regents made to the redevelopment plans first presented by former University president R. Bowen Loftin.
The group made the height of the east and west side of the stadium level and added canopies to both sides instead of just one.
“The other thing that was added was the first row of the second deck, right on the 50 yard line, there will be 12 seats that will remain empty forever,” Sharp said. “Those seats will be empty as symbolic seats [for the bonfire victims].”
Due to alumni-side renovations and the addition of press boxes, the total seat capacity after the second phase in 2015 will be 102,500 — making Kyle Field the largest stadium in the SEC and the state of Texas.
Dennis Christiansen, director of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, also spoke at the gathering and estimated that traffic congestion associated with Kyle Field would increase by 35-40 percent in 2014.
Christiansen said six local entities are funding an effort that will allow the institute to find ways to alleviate traffic in College Station and its surrounding areas for 2014 and beyond. The use of a revolutionary new app specific to A&M gamedays could help with those problems.
“We have the intent of working with local partners to have the most sophisticated gameday app in the country with real-time traffic and parking information,” Christiansen said. “You’ll be able to pay online for parking and transit. The emphasis is on letting you know your options.”