As scoreboard, bleachers and press box work ends, another project is just beginning
“I think that I shall never see
While Kilmer never made his way into DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, the spirit of that quote is evident in one of the current stadium-related construction projects at The University.
As preparations begin for the north end zone remodeling and expansion following the 2006 season, the effort is currently underway to move 16 oak trees surrounding that area of the stadium.
It is no easy task.
"These trees weigh anywhere from 150,000 to 250,000 pounds," said Dr. Robert Moon, an independent consultant on this effort that began last February.
The root system to some of these trees is as much as 30-feet wide.
"To ensure livability, you can't just pull these trees out of the ground," said Dr. Moon, a Dallas resident who spent 10 years with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and is in his 25th year as a private consultant.
Dr. Moon said there is work that is done to all parts of the tree before the extraction from the ground. He indicated that trees that were standing east/west or north/south must be replanted in the same direction.
"There are misting systems placed in the trees to ensure their health after the move," he said, noting that such care must be taken because "a tree can get sunburned."
Dr. Moon, who also was a consultant on the Blanton project where 13 trees were moved, said 12 of the 16 trees in the Texas project are going to be moved nearby the stadium.
"There are those that have been moved already," he continues, "that never dropped a leaf."
The cost of this tree-moving project is $800,000.
Jim Baker, associate athletics director for event and operations, reported that the first of the trees was moved in early August.
Regarding the remainder of the north end zone project, which received a $7.5 million contribution from W.A. "Tex" Moncrief ($4 million) and the Nelda C. and H. J. Lutcher Stark Foundation ($3.5 million pledge) on Aug. 10, Baker said there is utility work being done related to Belmont Hall.
"Two weeks after the A&M game, we'll begin knocking down that end of the stadium," Baker said. "Since it is a two-year project, we'll bring in bleachers in the 2007 season to make up for the 7,000 to 8,000 seats that we'll lose during construction."
The north end zone project, which is the largest part of the $150 million stadium expansion, is scheduled for completion in August 2008.
"We’ll have 47 suites, a club that will seat 2,000 and then there will be another 10,000 seats that will bring our capacity up to 90,000, plus more and new restrooms and concession areas," Baker said. "We'll also have an academic center for the athletes in the north end zone, as well as a food court that will be a year-round operation."
But before that...
Carpenter-Winkel Centennial Room: Baker reported that the construction crew was working on a short "punch list" of minor work to be done as the remodeling of this ninth floor area was complete.
Baker said the 432 seats in the room are sold out.
Stadium Press Box: The refurbishing and enlarging of the press box has also been completed.
"We had one of the smallest press boxes (85) and now have space for 115," he said.
There also are larger, flat-screen monitors throughout the press box for replays and posting of game statistics.
The remodeling brought the game-day TV crews off the photo deck and into a climate-controlled area.
"The national TV announcers had been out there exposed to the elements," Baker said. "Now, we've got them in a better place."
South End Zone Bleachers: The temporary bleachers placed in the south end zone provide seating for 4,055. All these seats are sold out, according to Baker.
"We had additional requests for between 8,000 and 10,000 season tickets," Baker said.
The Scoreboard: The 55-foot by 134-foot VideoBoard in the south end of the stadium is the most visible highlight of the first phase of the stadium renovation.
It is 7,340-square feet and as of this writing is the largest HD scoreboard in the world, although reports have indicated a larger edifice in Asia reportedly will claim the title later this year.
The scoreboard was manufactured by South Dakota-based Daktronics, Inc.
While the last few months have been hectic, Baker may now exhale.
"Not quite yet," he said with a laugh, "there is more work to be done over the next two years."