Buildup at Notre Dame won't affect football season

Author: Margaret Fosmoe

As appeared in the South Bend Tribune on July 26, 2015

By Margaret Fosmoe


SOUTH BEND — Huge construction cranes  mark the University of Notre Dame skyline and tall fences keep the public far away from Notre Dame Stadium.

That’s been the scene for months as the $400 million Campus Crossroads construction project proceeds, adding three major academic and student life buildings on the exterior of the famous football stadium.

All that will change Sept. 3, two days before the home opener of the 2015 Fighting Irish football season.

“On the Thursday afternoon before every home football weekend, the work will stop,” said Doug Marsh, associate vice president and university architect. The barriers will come down and the fences will be moved up against the walls of the stadium.

All the stadium gates will be open as usual to admit football fans for the Sept. 5 night game featuring Notre Dame vs. Texas.

The nearby parking lots that Saturday will be the same as always for tailgating fans arriving to enjoy the first home game. Areas of open dirt around the stadium by early September will be covered with a layer of asphalt to provide smooth walking for those heading to the game, Marsh said.

On Sept. 6, the day just after the Notre Dame-Texas game, the fences will go back up and the massive construction project will proceed.

Six times this fall, the construction zone will undergo that transformation. Fences will come down two days before each home game, and go back up the day after each game, so construction work each week may continue unabated.

Completion of the 800,000-square-foot Campus Crossroads project is scheduled for summer 2017.

Although the interior of the football stadium hasn’t changed, the view on the outside is already strikingly different.

The steel beams are in place for Corbett Family Hall, a new anthropology, psychology and digital media building that is rising nine stories on the east side of the football stadium. Similar construction is visible on the west side of the stadium for nine-story Duncan Student Center, a study, fitness, career counseling and student activities building.

Foundation work has begun on the stadium’s south side, where a six-story building for the university’s music programs will be built.

The trio of buildings is part of Campus Crossroads, which also will add a hospitality club, premium indoor seating and open-air terraces with views inside the stadium. The project will add about 2,000 seats to Notre Dame Stadium, which now seats 80,795 fans.

Campus Crossroads construction work is proceeding seven days a week, 10 hours a day, Marsh said. That became necessary because of lots of rain and some periods of high winds, he said.

There are about 300 workers on the project. “That will grow over time and come close to 500,” Marsh said.

Other construction work underway on campus this summer:

  • Exterior brick is being placed on McCourtney Hall, the massive new research building under construction east of Hesburgh Library. It’s a three-story, 220,000-square-foot facility. That project is about 50 percent complete and will open in summer 2016.
  • Two new undergraduate residence halls (one for men, one for women) are under construction northeast of Hesburgh Library. The halls are scheduled to open in August 2016. Each will house about 225 students.
  • A north entrance is being created on Hesburgh Library, and will open by the start of classes in late August. It’s part of a major renovation of the main campus library. Improvements are proceeding inside, although the entire project is expected to take five to 10 years.
  • The campus parking lot northwest of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center is gone. In its place is a deep hole where a foundation is being created for two interconnected buildings, Jenkins Hall and Nanovic Hall. The complex will house the new Keough School of Global Affairs, set to open in 2017, as well as various international programs, institutes and the departments of economics, political science and sociology.
  • A 3,000-square-foot expansion of the Morris Inn kitchen. Food buffets are being provided for diners at Sorin’s and Rohr’s restaurants until the expanded kitchen reopens in August.

With all the construction equipment and earth moving occurring this summer, one quiet corner of campus is the north side of the Notre Dame Sculpture Park, which is just west of Compton Family Ice Arena. Birds chirp, cattails sway and large pieces of outdoor art remain on display alongside the small pond centered in the park.

The south section of the sculpture park, facing Angela Boulevard, is closed and fenced off. A mountain of dirt and sand has been there for months, because that section is being used as a temporary holding spot for soil excavated from nearby construction sites, Marsh said. The restored sculpture park is expected to reopen fully by next summer.