A desire for more premium- level seating at Camp Randall Stadium fueled a major item in a look into what could be the future of University of Wisconsin athletics facilities.
The athletic department’s facilities master plan, presented to the Athletic Board at its meeting Friday, offers ideas for major renovations at five venues over the next decade and beyond, including an addition to the Kohl Center focused on athlete support.
Photos: Renderings of proposed terrace, club seats at Camp Randall and Field House
Proposed renderings for the University of Wisconsin's reconstruction of the south end zone seating at Camp Randall. The redesign concepts would include club seats and an outdoor terrace that connected to a club lounge inside the Field House.
The UW Field House, Nielsen Tennis Stadium and McClimon Track/Soccer Complex also were identified as places where significant upgrades could boost the experience for both athletes and fans.
The ideas for renovations at Camp Randall, however, were among the most extensive studied in the 169-page report.
Jason King, the senior associate athletic director for capital projects, emphasized that the presentation merely offered concepts, not definitive plans or timelines.
Demand now exceeds supply for suites and other high-end seating areas for Badgers home football games, he said, prompting a closer look at new options at Camp Randall. UW also considers its premium seating to be short of what other peer schools offer.
King told the board that surveys of UW supporters showed strong support for more club seats and opportunities for smaller suites at Camp Randall.
“There is an appetite for more premium seating,” King said in an interview. “I think when you put all of those things together, that is what precipitated us looking into what you saw today, and that is an extension of premium in a couple areas.”
Camp Randall, which opened in 1917, underwent a major renovation from 2001 to 2005, when 72 suites and more than 900 club seats were added to the east side.
The athletic department’s master plan team, which included Berners-Schober Architects of Green Bay and HOK of Kansas City, came up with four options for potential Camp Randall updates, with price tags from $39.6 million to $150 million.
The low end of the price scale involved upgrades to south end zone seating in front of the Field House. An upper-level terrace could include outdoor viewing areas attached to an indoor club room in the Field House’s balcony.
The high end was a full reconstruction of the west side of the stadium. A less costly option included only gutting and renovating the middle section of the west bowl and upper deck.
“These are 1,000-feet-in-the-air-type thoughts that we’ve had that require more exploration,” King said.
The athletic department had a high conversion percentage on the ideas generated in its last facilities master plan, presented to the board in September 2007.
That road map led to the construction of LaBahn Arena for men’s and women’s hockey, the Student-Athlete Performance Center at Camp Randall and additions to the Goodman Diamond softball complex and University Ridge golf course.
Major items that didn’t get to construction, however, included a new facility for the track and soccer teams as well as a banked indoor track.
The indoor track didn’t carry over to the new master plan. And instead of a new facility for track and soccer in the Lot 60 parking area, the idea now is to upgrade the existing McClimon venue with offices, team facilities, concessions, restrooms, a press box and roughly 2,000 seats in a grandstand.
Other potential facility upgrades include:
- Exterior restoration and a pedestrian plaza for the Field House, along with window replacement and addition of air conditioning. Code improvements to allow the balcony to be used were only briefly mentioned in the plan but King said recently that they would happen “at some point.”
- A 40,000-square-foot addition to the southeast side of the Kohl Center that would contain new offices for men’s and women’s basketball and men’s hockey as well as new training and academic facilities. A separate north end club space was highlighted on the second level.
- Additions to the outdoor part of the Nielsen Tennis Stadium, including two additional courts, offices, upgraded team facilities, concessions, restrooms and a press box.
Cost estimates for upgrades were $43.1 million for the Kohl Center, $10 million for Nielsen, $9.3 million for McClimon and $4.4 million for the Field House.
King said the master plan was careful not to include a rank order of priority so athletics can adjust to economic and donor factors.
“Our priority is the student-athlete and the student-athlete experience,” he said. “In some way, shape or form, everything that you saw today will have an effect on the student-athlete. People don’t always understand that. They look at premium seating. We do generate a lot of dollars through our premium areas. That money gets put back toward those student-athletes.”
Chryst, three others get extensions
Football coach Paul Chryst and three other Badgers coaches had their contracts renewed or extended by the UW Athletic Board.
Voting in closed session, the board approved one-year extensions for volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield and men’s soccer coach John Trask. Sheffield has a five-year deal through Jan. 31, 2022, while Trask’s three-year contract is through Jan. 31, 2020.
Chryst’s five-year contract now runs through Jan. 31, 2022.
Women’s soccer coach Paula Wilkins had her three-year contract renewed through Jan. 31, 2020.