More than four years after the Texas Longhorns began to study the feasibility of renovating the south end zone of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, the school moved forward this week with plans that will result in completed construction by the beginning of the 2021 football season.
So a project started by Steve Patterson and then handed off to interim athletics director Mike Perrin is now ultimately in the hands of Chris Del Conte as the school posted a solicitation for bids on Tuesday.
Two years ago, Texas released the University of Athletics Master Plan that showed the beginning stages of those renovation plans.
Based on the Master Plan, the main addition was supposed to be “premium seating with suites, loge places, and club places,” In fact, the south end zone is the only part of the field that doesn’t feature such premium seating, which is highly profitable for the university.
Based on the project description, scope, and budget for the project, those plans have taken further shape:
The University of Texas at Austin seeks to build an expansion to the Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium to replace the existing South End zone bleachers and existing video display with a new South End Zone, video display, and renovate portions of the adjacent Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center. This project is a part of Texas Athletics’ ongoing efforts to expand and upgrade their current facilities to provide the best facilities and services for their student athletes, fans, and staff with a critical eye to the latest in student athlete safety, well-being, and rehabilitation.
The scope of this project is proposed to include new exclusive suites, clubs, open air concourses, restroom facilities, new coaches offices, a banquet kitchen, premium, Loge, and student seating, private game-day parking, branding graphics, Longhorn Network areas, Sports Medicine/Nutrition areas, hydrotherapy, and other support spaces.
So this is a significant project that has now expanded well past the extremely preliminary descriptions unveiled in the Master Plan, though the need for significant renovations at the Moncrief-Neuhas Athletic Center was clearly apparent at that time. The question was whether the school would decide to demolish it entirely, but it seems that it will receive major upgrades instead.
Head coach Tom Herman has already made upgrading the football facilities a key point of emphasis since taking over. Within two months of being on the job, he’d already secured support to update the graphics in the football facilities, update the weight room, and renovate the locker room. Each of those projects were completed by the start of the 2017 football season.
“This is a place that has unbelievable tradition and history and we’re never going to forsake that in the name of upgrading facilities. So we have to find a way to intertwine all that history and tradition here, but also make this a place that is appealing to 17-year-old young men,” Herman said.
The school believes the preliminary cost for the renovations will be $140 million dollars, with a construction cost limitation of $100 million as the school takes a big next step in that process Herman mentioned. By late August, Texas hopes to approve the Schematic Design Documents following go-ahead from the Board of Regents. In June of 2019, the school plans on releasing a notice to allow necessary demolition to move forward, with structure construction beginning in August and continuing for nearly two years.
The initial Request for Qualifications is the first in the three-step process of selecting a construction manager for the project, which will be the most significant undertaking at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium since the stadium expansion a decade ago.
By late June, the school wants to approve the facility program, which will eventually help the Longhorns ensure the football program has facilities on par with the nation’s best.