Stadium expansion next on the docket for Notre Dame

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The house that Rockne built is in need of another expansion. At least that’s the thinking among Notre Dame administrators. The university announced a feasibility study that’s going to explore all options for the iconic stadium over the next six to nine months, as part of the a larger campus plan.

“Inspired by the University’s campus master plan, we will study the possibility of accomplishing multiple objectives — namely, preserve the campus’ pedestrian character by taking advantage of a central location for needed facilities, retain the integrity of a legendary stadium, improve the visual attractiveness of the exterior stadium wall, and enhance the game day experience for our football fans,” university president Rev. John Jenkins said in an official release.

Those objectives include transitioning the stadium from simple football stadium to a nerve center that incorporates more into daily university life. In an interview with the South Bend Tribune, athletic director Jack Swarbrick gave a few more details into the master plan.

“For me, this is such a quintessential Notre Dame story,” Swarbrick told the Tribune, “in which athletics has some issues it wants to address, the university has important issues on its agenda and there’s a natural integration of that discussion and engagement of people across the university that doesn’t produce an athletic solution, but produces a university solution. And that really excites me.

“We talk a lot about our model being different. I think this concept is the embodiment of that difference, that we’ll take our most iconic athletic venue and re-imagine it as the site of year-round university use, not five-day a year athletic use.”

One thing that seems most likely: an expansion to the attendance capacity, with the inclusion of much needed premium seating. That will be accomplished with a matching bank of indoor seating, opposite the current press box.

One hot topic that hasn’t been discussed is the adding of a video board. In the concept art the university released (here’s a link to a larger image), no video board is visible. That said, the obvious place for it is above the south end zone, an angle we don’t see.

The study will take place over the next six to nine months and is still in the defining stages. The university hopes to incorporate the following additions:

  • Space for classrooms, conferences, speakers, meetings, receptions and other events.
  • A student center for assembly and activity areas.
  • Resources for media, including facilities for the University’s expanding video and digital initiatives for academic purposes and external relations, as well as a press box.
  • A location for various hospitality functions for community and campus patrons.
  • Enhancements to the fan experience, including premium seating options.