Some Things New, Some Improved

Upgrades to facilities will give athletic teams a refreshed field of play
Writer: 
April 28, 2014

Big changes are coming to Wallace Wade Stadium: luxury seating, a new press box, and maybe a sellout crowd are things to look for when you plan a visit for a fall Saturday in 2016 or beyond. One thing you won’t see? A track.

The stadium, home to Blue Devil football since 1929, will receive a major facelift as part of a campus-wide upgrade, courtesy of the Duke Forward campaign. As part of that campaign, the athletics department has a goal of raising $250 million, which will be split into three pots: $100 million for operating and scholarship support, $50 million for the department’s endowment, and the remaining $100 million for construction and renovation of facilities that will benefit all twenty-six of Duke’s varsity teams.

Planning for facility modernization began in 2008, shortly after the arrival of vice president and director of athletics Kevin White. A master plan for all levels of athletics, from intramurals to Division I, was devised in consultation with multiple architectural firms, leading to formation of the Bostock Group, chaired by former Duke trustee and varsity football player Roy Bostock ’62. The group, which included such well-known alumni as Grant Hill ’94 and current NBA commissioner Adam Silver ’84, focused on West Campus and revenue-generating facilities. The first phase of facility construction, new turf and grass practice fields for the men’s and women’s lacrosse and soccer teams, was completed in January.

“The practice fields were really one of the first steps—actually it has turned out to be our first step—as far as a domino effect going into the football stadium,” says Mike Cragg, Duke’s deputy athletics director for operations.

At Wallace Wade Stadium, the track will be removed from the horseshoe and the field lowered five feet, creating eight more rows of bleacher seating. The existing press box will be torn down and reconstructed to include some luxury suites; more seat-backs will be added, and a new scoreboard and concourse improvements will make the aging stadium feel younger. The stadium’s new capacity will be right around 40,000, up from not quite 34,000. Most renovations will take place following the upcoming season.

“We’re never going to miss a game,” says Cragg. “The clock is now ticking— we’re moving.”

Some architectural renderings of the remodeled stadium had called for completion of the horseshoe, but that proposal was put on hold. Cragg says that if Wallace Wade begins to sell out consistently, the next step could be to build a familyfriendly hill at the open end of the stadium, where families and groups can take in a game away from the bleachers.

To accommodate the athletes displaced from Wallace Wade, construction on a new track stadium is well under way, as are modifications to Koskinen Stadium. Part of the track venue will be a separately financed building, Kennedy Tower, named for longtime associate athletics director Chris Kennedy Ph.D. ’79 and his late wife, Ana. The facility, which will be open to host Duke events year-round and will house a press box for soccer and lacrosse, should be ready for lacrosse season in the spring of 2015. Koskinen will also get a new scoreboard and bleachers.

Duke’s most-revered athletic venue, Cameron Indoor Stadium, will be upgraded as well, likely beginning in 2015. The space between Cameron and Wallace Wade will be refurbished as “Blue Devil Plaza,” a pedestrian access space that will require taking out the current traffic circle. Plans for updating the seventy-fouryear- old facility include a new lobby entrance on the plaza side and a club space for hospitality on the second floor, outside the existing building, to accommodate an estimated 400 people. The current structure doubles as a home for many divisions of athletics administration, but construction of the Scott Family Pavilion for Olympic sports will relocate those offices and open up additional space in Cameron for future renovations. That pavilion, named for donors Steven Scott H.S. ’78 and his wife, Rebecca Jensen Scott A.H.A. ’79, also will feature a new ticket office and a Nike team store.

“What we’ve tried to do is really incorporate the new with the old, and try to fix up the old as much as possible, like paint the seats upstairs, put in new fixtures, and upgrade the scoreboard a few years back,” Cragg says. “[We’re] always trying to preserve the history, the charm, and keeping it the place it is, and we’ll try to do the same with this. We will not touch the bowl of Cameron at all.”

An expenditure of $100 million for athletic facilities might look like a hefty price tag, but seems modest in comparison to what other schools are doing, Duke officials say. The University of Alabama recently spent an equal sum on a football locker room, while crosstown rival UNC spent $75 million building end zone seating and club space at its football stadium. Tom Coffman, deputy athletics director for development, points out the practicality of Duke’s plan, spreading the $100 million across its entire athletics landscape rather than concentrating it on one sport, generating “a lot of bang for our buck.