Sun Dome renovations taking shape

After nearly five months of construction, the Sun Dome offered glimpses of what its new facility would offer.

Project Manager Stephen Lafferty led The Oracle on a tour of the construction site Tuesday. He said that by the time construction is completed April 15, the Sun Dome will look like a brand-new building.

Lafferty said fixed seating will be installed on the second floor of the Sun Dome where, previously, retractable bleachers were used. Once the renovations are complete, the bleachers will be continuous all the way around the floor.

“It will be a much more intimate setting,” he said.

Lafferty said the fixed seating will make room for additional bathrooms and concession stands, as well as a concourse that will allow fans to stay connected while not on the bleachers.

The renovated Sun Dome will also feature improved acoustics, Lafferty said.

“It’s (going to) be a much better fan experience,” he said.

A student club on the ground level is being built, though it has not yet been finalized how it will be used. Lafferty said that it will most likely be a place designated for student leaders and Student Government.

The Sun Dome renovations cost $35.6 million. About $30 million of the budget was allocated toward the actual construction, and the remaining money is being spent on miscellaneous costs, including architectural fees, permit fees, furniture, fixtures, equipment, materials and supplies, Lafferty said.

The majority of the renovations are being done to the interior of the building, Lafferty said. The outside will just be “cleaned up” and repaved.

Office of Sustainability Director Christian Wells said the new building will also meet green standards.

“It will finally be consistent with the level and stature of our athletics program,” he said.

Ninety percent of the materials that were taken out of the Sun Dome to date have been recycled.

“That includes all the bleachers, all the chairs, all the concrete,” Lafferty said. “It’s about 4,715,000 pounds that we’ve recycled to date, and we’re only halfway through the job.”

Wells said once renovations are complete, the Sun Dome will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified, exhibiting various levels of sustainability.

The Patel Center for Global Solutions was the University’s first LEED-certified building.

There will be various score and display boards all around the stadium.

“It’s highly likely that we’ll be one of the only college venues in the country that has corner display boards, as well as ribbon boards, as well as a center home scoreboard, as well as about 100 different distributed TV monitors around the building, too,” Lafferty said.

There will be four entrances into the Sun Dome once renovations are complete. The ticket office will lead from Entry Three to Entry Four, which will serve as the two main entrances to the building.

The landscaping will involve the removal of an invasive species that is growing outside of the Sun Dome. Once the Japanese tree is removed, native plants will be planted in its place. Lafferty said not all the landscaping will be native, but it will be drought-tolerant.

Lafferty said the 250,000-square-foot building has been undergoing renovations since June 8. The first events held in the new building will be the spring commencement ceremony May 4-5.