Bronco Stadium Expands

Story by Stephanie Worrell | September 28, 2010

Boise State University's latest marketing slogan is "beyond the blue," referring to the now infamous blue turf that covers the school's varsity football field. A $32.1-million expansion of Bronco Stadium, the facility that surrounds the field, has taken the slogan in the opposite direction of the fake blue grass — way up into the blue sky that usually hovers over the Treasure Valley.

The 83,600-square-foot project is being constructed on the west side of the stadium and includes luxury suites, expanded seating, club rooms, upgrades to the west concourse and other facilities — making the facility more than just a place to kick off on Saturdays during football season. It will become a multi-use, community facility that can be utilized year-round for special events, conferences and banquets. The expansion to the existing 30,000-seat stadium will increase capacity to 32,000.

"The expansion of Bronco Stadium is an important milestone in the ongoing portfolio of projects on the Boise State University campus," said James Maguire, Boise State University associate vice president of planning and facilities. "It will serve as the cornerstone in the growth and development of the southeast area of campus. We have three additional projects in design right now."

To finance construction, Boise State University issued $28 million in bonds, and additional funds will be secured through the athletic department over the next several years.

Giant Structure on Stilts

The university contracted with Sandy, Utah-based Layton Construction to build the addition, and FFKR Architects of Salt Lake City designed the project. Work began in March 2007 and is slated to conclude in August 2008. Both firms came into the project with stadium design and construction experience. Layton has the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium and Brigham Young's LaVell Edwards Stadium — to name a couple — in its "stadium portfolio." Both firms also worked on facility expansion projects for those two facilities.

"Even though this isn't the type of project you see being built every day in a community, it's really fairly standard in terms of concrete and steel form construction," said Layton's project manager, Jeremy Hobbs. "But this project is unique in the fact that it's basically a giant structure on stilts. The tops of the two towers included in the facility expansion rise 69 feet above the existing structure."

Staging to construct what have been dubbed the "north" and "south" towers was 24 hours, seven days a week — and at the time of publication, was complete.

"It is amazing for people to see how fast the towers go up," said Hobbs. "A 25,000-pound forming system (provided and engineered by Scanada) was trucked in from New Hampshire and assembled on the site. A crew of about 22 guys worked around the clock, first on the north tower and then on the south. The towers went up at the rate of about 10 to 14 inches per hour, each taking between six to eight days to erect."

The form included three levels, and included four, 22-ton hydraulic jacks that climb on 2-1/2-inch jack rods moving the entire 25,000-pound, three-level platform and workers upward at 1-inch increments. The upper level was used for landing rebar, concrete and embeds, and the second was used for placing concrete, driving the form and rebar placement. The third and lowest level was for concrete finishers to finish concrete as it came out at the bottom of the form.

Getting materials up to the site of construction was a challenge at times. A 275-ton hydraulic crane assisted with the lifting of materials while a temporary stair tower was used for access for the construction personnel. All of the concrete was wheel-barrowed and placed into the narrow formwork manually by the concrete crews.

The north tower, which spans 170 feet, utilized 1,130 cubic yards of concrete and 252,360 pounds of rebar. There are 34 doors (includes elevators) and 860 concrete embeds. The south tower is the same height and used about the same amount of concrete and rebar, but it has 29 door openings and 680 concrete embeds. Approximately 200 loads of concrete were trucked in — also 24–7 — per tower.

"Of course, the safety of our crews has been top of mind throughout the project," said Hobbs. "It can be a bit more challenging when you are working so high off the ground, but it is a daily, conscious effort for us and we've had no issues so far."

No Major Delays

Layton Construction boats an annual volume of over $700 million. The company is ranked as the top commercial builder in the state of Utah by Utah Business magazine.

Other major partners and subcontractors working on the stadium expansion include:

  • Lea Electric (Boise)
  • DeBest Plumbing (Boise)
  • YMC, Inc. (Meridian, Idaho)
  • Boise Crane (Boise)
  • Velocity Steel (Wilder, Idaho)
  • GB Redi Mix (Boise)
  • Materials Testing & Inspection, Inc. (Boise)
  • Sommer Builders (Boise)
  • Fought Steel (Portland, Ore.)
  • REFA Erection (Portland, Ore.)

"Every effort has been made to use local Idaho partners, crews and materials," said Hobbs. "Our company makes it a priority to support and become part of the local community."

In terms of project challenges, Hobbs noted weather and staging as the only concerns to date. Abnormally cold weather and unusual amounts of snow in the months of November, December and January slowed progress a bit. But, no major delays are expected in the overall project timeline. Hobbs said he believes that crews will meet the August finish date.

"Staging a project when part of it must remain open for use is always complicated," said Hobbs. "We continued construction during the 2007 football season and one major bowl game, hosting thousands of fans on any given game day."

Temporary concessions, elevators, access ramps, and entrances were all part of the major logistical efforts that were coordinated prior to the season. A temporary, albeit smaller, press box also was constructed in order to serve media during the season.

"Layton has kept this project on time, through track meets, rain, snow, 100-degree days, and eight packed football games," said Lori Hays, Boise State University assistant athletic director for operations. "They helped us place porta-potties and keep the construction site clean and safe on game days. Their pride in their work and partnership with the community is obvious."

What's New

The new press box, which will provide state-of-the-art facilities for print and broadcast media, will feature high-performance glazing curtain wall systems designed for energy efficiency. Insulated metal panels will be used where glass is not installed.

New entrances will be opened at the ground level on the west side. Two elevator lobbies provide five elevators, with three in the north tower and two in the south tower. A new ticket office — slated to operate daily for tickets to other local events — will be opened on this level in a central lobby that also will house the Bronco Shop. An entry plaza with seating and landscaping is planned for the west side.

Design elements included enhanced views of the scenic Treasure Valley. For example, additional outdoor club seating will accommodate about 750. Patrons in these seats have the option of being indoors, with a window system that opens all the way in good weather. The sky suites and press box also feature windows that open completely when the weather allows.

An exposed steel structure running from the concourse to the loge level supporting the new press box will add creative aesthetic detail to a utilitarian structure. The narrow existing concourse level will be replaced with all new concession stands and additional restrooms. A full culinary kitchen will be going in on the ground level. The new concourse will span 40 feet wide.

With the towers complete, crews are beginning to pour slab on the metal decks and to rough-in electrical and mechanical. In February, the exterior shell, glass paneling and roofing will be added to the exterior.

Hobbs is confident that the stadium will be open for business in mid-August — just in time for the first game on 2008 Bronco football schedule.

"Upon completion of the stadium expansion, the assembly of space is going to be known as a true landmark because of visibility from the city," said Maguire. "The views of the mountains to the east are going to be striking. Bronco Stadium is going to be a remarkable structure, both from without and within."