When Alabama State University started working on its new football stadium, the plan was to complete the stadium in time for the 89th annual Turkey Classic held on Thanksgiving. Even with a tight timeline, everyone worked together to build a state-of-the-art stadium that the school can show off proudly.
“This has been a dream of ASU for a long time, ” says architect John Chambless. “The stadium is right on the interstate. It creates a strong image for the University.”
Three levels of seating, as well as party terraces, are situated in the 450, 000-square-foot stadium. Currently, the stadium’s capacity is 26, 500 but room was left for possible future expansion to 55, 000. One point of sale of food was placed for every 250 seats; in the premium seats, one for every 125. And visitors can still see the field from the concession stands.
Traffic studies led to 700 parking spaces and RV parking on campus. Multiple locker rooms, training rooms, media rooms, a recruiting lounge and offices allow for the stadium to be used year round. The rotation of the building allows the home side to be in the shade in early afternoon. An entry plaza with oversized graphic panels connects the campus to the stadium with a restaurant and retail area. Chambless credits Ken Upchurch and Tommy Lawrence with TCU Program Management, located in Montgomery, with helping to organize the schedules to accommodate the multipurpose features of the building.
Since part of the building was taking place in a former residential area, Rabren General Contractors had a lot of work to complete. Water lines, sewer lines and other infrastructure had to be upgraded. A countdown clock was onsite to remind everyone of the quick turnaround time. The project started with a 40-foot deep hole, hauling away 280, 000 cubic yards of dirt. Approximately 100 sharks teeth were unearthed from the site, some as long as 1.5 inches. Several superintendents and 300-400 people worked on the project, sometimes from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m.
PROJECT NAME Alabama State University Stadium
VALUE $62 million
GENERAL CONTRACTOR Rabren General Contractors Inc.
ARCHITECT Brown Chambless (Now: Chambless King and Brown Studio)
Civil: Goodwyn Mills & Cawood
Structural: Blackburn Daniels O’Barr
Electrical/Mechanical: CRS Engineering
Major Subcontractors: Auburn Electrical Construction, Bradley Plumbing and Heating Inc., C&C Masonry, CK Steel, Daktronics
Rabren General Contractors reports that 1 million screws, nails and fasteners went into building the stadium. The cost of labor was $27 million, and 1, 082, 500 work hours went to the project. The 65-foot scoreboard has 1.8 million LED lights. Fifteen miles of wiring, three miles of handrails and 168 lights for the field all contribute to the success of the project.
“It was a massive undertaking, ” says Mike Rabren, president of Rabren General Contractors. “It was basically $62 million of work in 20 months.”
With only one month to go, fencing, landscaping and the scoreboard still had to be put in place. But everyone worked together to make it happen. A very high profile game was held on time, hosting the mayor, the governor and standing room only for visitors.
“It was an unbelievable experience and a great day, ” says Rabren. “We are only a 13-year-old company and ASU gave us a shot. It was very rewarding.”
Gina Ishman, director of facilities management at ASU, hopes for that same energy to carry over into next season, when ASU can finally play home games at home.
“The stadium offers a little for everyone, ” says Ishman. “It acknowledges the outstanding athletic program and enhances recruitment.”
Laura Stakelum is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. She lives in Dothan.
Text by Laura Stakelum