With a little imagination, you can see the new Husky Stadium.
Sure, right now it’s just a dirt hole filled with trucks, cranes and materials with areas of concrete and steel. But it’s easy to envision the new football administration offices, the state-of-the-art weight room and expanded locker rooms.
Close your eyes and you may see new stands with wider aisles and bigger seats, and a field without the track around it so close you can touch the players.
“It’s quite amazing,” Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said. “It’s finally starting to get its bones and its shape.”
The media was given an update on the renovation as well as a tour of the construction site Monday.
Perhaps the biggest news is that there has been no news. Nothing has gone wrong and the project is progressing as expected.
Woodward likened himself to the Maytag repairman in the old commercials.
“I don’t have a lot to do because this project is on time and on budget, and that’s music to my ears,” he said.
Woodward’s fundraising staff – led by Jen Cohen, senior associate director of athletics – has raised $48.5 million in private funds. The goal was to raise $50 million by the end of the 2013 season, which puts the UW ahead of schedule.
“That’s quite impressive,” Woodward said. “It’s a hell of a testament to our donors and how much they believe in this program.”
Woodward knew it wouldn’t be easy because of the economy.
“I was scared beyond belief on it just because of this tough climate,” he said. “But hard work and belief in our program and belief in our university, our donors step up, year in and year out.”
There is no major benefactor supplying the funds, such as at Oklahoma State with oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens or Oregon with Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
“I don’t have one big donor that stroked a big check,” he said. “We have a bunch of healthy donors that have stepped up.”
The rest of the $250 million needed to pay for the project are supposed to come from revenues generated by the stadium itself.
Part of that revenue is from additional luxury suites and club seats, which have been hot commodities.
“We are currently sold out of club seats and patio suites,” Woodward said. “We have a very limited amount of suites left. I think it’s between five and eight.”
As far as the construction process, it’s on time.
“The only surprises that we have had so far are pleasant surprises,” project consultant Bob Collier said.
Things such as dry weather in December and January and better than expected soil content from the demolition have made the process go smoothly.
“We could demolish and haul dirt out when it was basically dry,” said Chip Lydum associate athletic director for operations and capital projects.
The foundation and general shape of the football administration offices have been set, and Lydum said fans can expect to see part of the south stands being erected by June 15.
Lydum said the new stadium will have around 70,000 seats instead of the old capacity of 72,500. But Woodward pointed out that there won’t be any view restricted seats.
“We could jam 80,000 in the old place,” Woodward said. “In the end, we will have many more better seats than we do currently.”
For the 2012 season, Washington will play its home games at CenturyLink Field. Woodward said that 95 percent of the season ticket holders have renewed their seats. He called it “incredible.”
“I thought we’d have some falloff with fans having to go to CenturyLink,” Woodward said. “ While it does disrupt, they understand it will be different, it will be fun and we can live with it for a year.”
O-LINE TAKES A HIT
Huskies senior center Drew Schaefer dressed in full pads for the first time in two weeks after being sidelined with a knee injury. But the good news was dampened when backup guard Siosifa Tufunga suffered a broken right hand in the first half of practice.
Tufunga’s status for the rest of spring practice is unknown. With Schaefer likely not tparticipating in Saturday’s spring game, Washington could have only eight healthy offensive linemen.
Coach Steve Sarkisian said because of the depth issues, it will likely be an offense versus defense game instead of breaking up into two separate teams.
Wide receiver Kasen Williams had a couple dropped passes during practice. The sophomore standout was clearly miffed by the mistakes and stayed more than 20 minutes after working with quarterback Keith Price. Outside linebackers Scott Lawyer (groin) and Taz Stevenson (illness) both returned to full practice. Lawyer had missed the previous five, while Stevenson missed two. Receiver James Johnson, who had his bell rung Friday, did not dress. Walk-on defensive linemen Alec Kimble also sat out. Kimble had returned to practice Saturday after missing most of the spring with a leg injury. H-back Cooper Pelluer (shoulder) and defensive tackle Lawrence Lagafuaina (bell rung) both practiced but wore red no contact jerseys. Bellarmine Prep standout safety Calvin Chandler watched practice along with his dad, Jeff, who is a former center for the Huskies.