UW athletic director Scott Woodward held a little briefing to update media today, and much of it covered the same territory that was in our story in Friday’s paper.
In what struck me as maybe the most interesting new detail, Woodward said that if anything, capacity is likely to decrease from its current official listing of 72,500.
Asked if capacity would stay where it is, he said: “Maybe not. Instead of 72, we may be in the in the mid-60s somewhere, or the upper 60s depending on what makes the most sense and what we can monetize out of Husky Stadium.”
Woodward said he would prefer to go smaller rather than bigger. Asked why, he said: “Because traditionally we have not been, for a long time, a sell-out crowd, and then also I like the marketing plans of having a well-sought out hot ticket whereas you don’t have that right now and you have some not-so-great seats in the last seats that sell.”
That can also place a better value on the seats that are available, he said.
Woodward also confirmed that the Request For Proposals was officially submitted today with a deadline of July 1. The UW hopes to go before the Board of Regents on July 15 with a specific proposal.
Until then, however, many of the specifics of the renovation — such as when and what it might look like — will remain unknown.
“There is one certainty in this thing and that is that we will begin constuction on Husky Stadium in six to 18 months,” he said. “Everything else is open for discussion and good proposals and what we get from various consulstants and various RFPs. … Everything is on the table.”
That includes tearing down the south side stands.
The 6-18 months means either after the 2010 or 2011 seasons, as detailed in the story today.
Woodward said that there is no set price tag, saying part of the goal with the RFPs is to see how cheaply developers think they can do the project.
“As low as possible is the target,” he said — the initial price tag was $300 million and of late UW officials have said in the $200-250 million range.
“We’re trying to drive the prices even further down given the depression in the construction market here,” Woodward said, saying that costs for “concrete, labor and steel have all gone down and we’re coming up with all kinds of new ideas for value engineering to do the stadiuim the best and smartest possible way.”
“I hope it’s south of $200 (million),” he said.
IN OTHER NOTES FROM THE BRIEFING:
— Woodward said again that the school will continue to seek public funding though how and when is undetermined.
— He said the track will actually be moved north of the current soccer field and will stand alone.
— Naming rights are likely, though probably similar to how it was done with Hec Ed, where the traditional name remained as part of the name. “The preference is for it not to happen,” he said. “Everyone loves the name Husky Stadium, and it’s going to remain Husky Stadium. But there might be a possibility for a donor to step up and name the field.”
— As noted in the story today, he said a football center could be delayed, but the hope is it could be part of the initial renovation and said that it is needed both to create more space for other sports and for competitive reasons for the football program.
— He said he has no worries that the needed money will be raised: “We are very confident that the plan we have going forward we will be able to raise (the necessary funds). The University just came out of a very successful capital campaign plan and I think there is pent-up demand to contribute and go forth in football and in collegiate athletics here at the University of Washington.” Pressed on that, he said “It (the money) will come. It’s a very conservative plan and has a lot of components to it.”
— He said the reason for not naming a price now is to see what the developers will come up with: “You don’t build a number in and then fill the bucket up.”
— Asked how much money is needed to begin the project, he said: “We just don’t know yet. Iould like to have half the philantrophic donations pledged before we go forth to the Board of Regents for final approval.”
— He said much of the planning work has already been done, one reason he is confident construction can start after the 2010 season, noting that $3.5 million has already been spent on “design and pre-design. .. we’ve done a ton of work already to prepare for this plan.”