UW moves ahead

Stadium rebuilding will begin within two years

SEATTLE – The University of Washington will begin rebuilding Husky Stadium within a year and a half – with or without the help of taxpayers.

Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said there is only one certainty with the remodeling of the 90-year-old stadium, “and that certainty is we will begin construction of Husky Stadium in six to 18 months.”

Woodward confirmed the state’s largest public university sent a unique open request for construction proposals to contractors on Friday.

The university is soliciting varying design ideas with maximum costs attached, due back to the school July 1. Then it hopes to choose from about five plans and begin remodeling the Pac-10’s oldest football venue the day after this year’s home football schedule ends on Nov. 18.

If the plan can’t come together by then, Woodward said the Huskies would play the 2011 season on campus before construction would begin that winter instead.

“This is a different kind of building process. We’re putting out requests for bids,” said former Gov. Dan Evans, chairman of the Husky Stadium advisory committee. “When we pick a developer, it will be based not necessarily on the lowest cost. The proposal is really seeking the best value for what we can get.”

Evans said he thinks the project – which could result in a new seating capacity of 65,000 and likely will include the name of a corporate sponsor on the new stadium – can cost less than $250 million, with new football locker room and meeting rooms included.

Woodward is hoping it could cost less than $200 million. The A.D. said a new football operations center must be included in the project for competitive and recruiting reasons.

UW’s new plan is an attempt to take advantage of rock-bottom construction costs and interest rates in a soft economy.

It scraps for now the idea of getting the state’s authorization for use of King County tax revenues to pay for half of a $300 million remodel.

The Legislature has refused to consider that plan for a vote – though Woodward said the university is still pursuing public funding for the project.

Washington wants to replace the 72,500-seat stadium’s lower bowl, remove the track that rings the field and pushes back seats and sight lines, lower the field by 7 feet, add revenue-producing premium seating, modernize concessions and restroom areas and add that new locker room and meeting rooms for the football team.

UW is trying to raise $50 million to $60 million in private donations for the new locker room and meeting rooms then have bonds paid off by new seat licenses to cover the project’s remaining $150 million to $200 million.

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