Sports

Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium has a new, more accessible ‘crow’s nest’ seating section

Workers place seats in Cameron Indoor Stadium, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. A new addition to the Blue Devils stadium is the overhead press area.  Formerly accessible only by ladders before the game, at halftime and afterward, the newly renovated area has stairs and a larger area for seating.
Workers place seats in Cameron Indoor Stadium, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. A new addition to the Blue Devils stadium is the overhead press area. Formerly accessible only by ladders before the game, at halftime and afterward, the newly renovated area has stairs and a larger area for seating. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium has a new look — and a new, more accessible crow’s nest seating section.

After removing the cramped crow’s nest platform in 2017 and using two temporary podiums during last basketball season, the school installed a new structure with permanent stairs this summer.

Last year, Duke cited safety concerns as a reason to replace the old crow’s nest with a new one.

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The new structure hangs from center court above the fan seating area, bridging sections six and seven. This time, however, it’s accessible by two sets of permanent stairs instead of removable ladders.

For decades, the catwalk-like crow’s nest hung from Cameron’s ceiling and was tucked into the rafters at center court above fans. The structure had been around since at least the 1970s, Duke officials told The News & Observer last fall. It was accessible only by portable metal ladders that were removed and placed inside the structure once games started.

Positioned about eight feet above the seating area, the three-section structure had three ladders, one for each section, and was used by the university as “specialty seating” for auction winners and to house television and radio broadcasters, along with other reporters and video operators during games. Getting in or out of the crow’s nest meant climbing up and down the metal steps, which were angled so users could climb them facing either forward or backward, The News & Observer reported last September.

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“This is the best possible outcome of a not great location,” Mike Cragg, Duke’s deputy athletics director who oversees facilities, said of the new structure. “But it is a great view. It definitely will function well. There is more head room up there. A little more table space.”

Radio crews from the visiting and home teams, plus a television crew, will sit in the new perch to broadcast games. A podium placed in the corner of Cameron Indoor last year will remain and be used for overflow media seating.

Cragg said Cameron has lost about 30 seats due to the project. But the arena’s capacity remains at 9,314.

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A ladder is raised into the crow’s nest at Cameron Indoor Stadium before N.C. State's game against Duke on Jan. 23. Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

The front of the new crow’s nest has brass lettering spells out “Cameron Indoor Stadium”, which is illuminated with lights and mounted on the front of the wood facing that blends in with the rest of the 78-year-old building’s decor.

Durham City-County inspections records show Romeo Guest Associates, a Durham construction company, received permits to work on the project beginning March 13, 2017.

“The purpose of the project was to provide safer egress via permanent stairs (the old platform had removable ships ladders) and to the extent possible, improve accommodations for its intended occupants,” Durham City-County Chief Building Inspector Wyatt Blalock wrote in an email to The News & Observer.

Records show the structure passed all inspections, with the final electrical permit being approved on Aug. 23.

In an email, city of Durham’s interim fire marshal Jody Morton wrote that his office inspected the new structure according to fire code requirements and it passed earlier this month.

The temporary structure used during the 2017-18 basketball season had wood podiums at the top of the arena, near center court and in one corner.

Broadcast teams and other media used those areas, which were accessible by the stadium’s existing steps, during games this past season.

The Cameron Crazies prepare to enter Cameron Indoor Stadium for Saturday night's showdown between the nationally ranked Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels.

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