Wallace Wade Stadium construction update
Duke football fans will see changes to their Wallace Wade Stadium experience next year, but the facility’s track may live to see another season.
The focus of the work on Wallace Wade Stadium following this season will possibly focus more on the concourse, specifically the East Gate area, than the field and bowl, Duke deputy director of athletics for operations Mike Cragg said Monday.
“It is possible we are not going to remove the track this year,” Cragg said. “We are going to be re-doing the whole East Gate area.”
Originally the hope was to remove the track and lower the field following this season, allowing for new seats to be constructed to bring fans closer to the playing field. Duke plays its last home football game of this season on Nov. 16 against Miami.
But Cragg said the idea now is to make improvements to the concourse area that will improve the fan experience more for the 2014 season.
Under the current plans, restroom and concession facilities would be upgraded on both sides of the stadium over the next 11 months, or perhaps longer.
“All of that will be totally changed,” Cragg said. “It doesn’t mean it will all be done by September. But people will be able to go to games and experience progress.”
The construction plans for the massive facilities upgrades as part of the Duke Forward project are in flux for a number of reasons, Cragg said. One major aspect is the school is weighing the best way to get the work done with the funds available.
“Definitely part of the strategy is an impactful use of dollars,” Cragg said. “That’s something we always promise our donors. We are going to use those dollars wisely. That’s our proven track record in the past.”
The school has found that it could make more financial sense to remove the track, lower the field and tear down the Finch-Yeager Building at the same time following the 2014 season.
A new building that will house luxury suites and a new press facility will be constructed to replace the Finch-Yeager Building. The sports medicine offices that are currently Finch-Yeager will be relocated.
Duke has been focusing this fall on the new soccer and lacrosse practice fields that are nearly complete along Bassett Drive, behind Wallace Wade and Koskinen stadiums. Wet weather has put that construction behind by about three months, Cragg said. But those fields are expected to be done by mid-November.
Construction on the new track facility, adjacent to Koskinen, is expected to begin in mid-February 2014 so it would be ready for the spring 2015 track season.
If a final decision is made to leave Wallace Wade Stadium’s track in place for one more year, it would mean Duke’s track teams will have a home facility in 2014 after all. Those teams have worked under the impression they wouldn’t have a home facility next year while waiting on the new track stadium to be completed.