Duke vice president and director of athletics Kevin White has a lot of things to look forward to these days—including the start of his work on the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee and his son Michael’s first game as the head basketball coach at Florida.
But White’s face lights up just as much when talking about the next major phase of Duke’s athletic campus—Blue Devil Plaza, which will allow easy access to a slew of renovated facilities expected to be completed by fall 2016. The plaza will be a connector between a renovated Wallace Wade Stadium—which is expected to be ready for for Duke football’s home opener Sept. 12—and a new frontal addition to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“What excites me about that construction zone is in the midst of all those projects, we’re going to have this pedestrian plaza, and the plaza is going to serve as a conduit between Cameron Indoor and the Scott Pavilion and the Yoh Building, Wallace Wade, Koskinen [Stadium] and [Jack Coombs Field],” White said. “If you let your imagination run wild right now, you can start to see the plaza—at least I can.”
Blue Devil Plaza is not expected to open until June 2016, but donors already started seeing the results of their contributions toward athletic facility upgrades last semester with the openings of Morris Williams Track and Field Stadium and Kennedy Tower, which serves the new track facility as well as Koskinen Stadium.
The new video boards at those venues are repurposed from the old Wallace Wade Stadium video board, which was dismantled to make room for a new LED board more than twice its size. White said so far the feedback on the completed projects has been very positive, a trend he expects to continue.
“It’s been off-the-charts good,” White said. “The track meets that we’ve held, people have been going berserk.”
The next dominoes expected to fall are a myriad of projects at Wallace Wade Stadium—lowering the field and seats with the track no longer bordering the playing surface and installing a new 3,175 square-foot video board and a 55-yard kicking field. White said he is confident the upgrades will be ready for the Blue Devils’ home opener Sept. 12 against N.C. Central, with work on the facility that will replace the recently demolished Finch-Yeager Building and new concourses continuing until next fall.
“It’s going to be a rather boutique college football stadium that is going to have tremendous amenities for fans and a great place for students to enjoy college football and for our student-athletes to perform,” White said.
Construction on Wallace Wade Stadium began last November, but renovations only recently began on the south side of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Included in the project—which is expected to finish by October 2016—are a new lobby, hospitality area, memorabilia space and two areas for game-day ticketing. The entrance students use will not be affected, but once the athletic campus is complete, Cameron Indoor Stadium will have a different feel—just not around the court.
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“We’ve kind of arrived at a great place to keep sacred what needs to be sacred and then to add on what will make the whole experience even better,” White said. “We were going to do everything we could to protect the authenticity of Cameron. Everybody likes what we have, and what we have was built in 1940 and it’s really special.”
Two other major construction projects on Duke’s athletic campus are renovations to the weight training facilities in the Murray Building and the new Scott Pavilion—which will house a Nike team store, offices for ticketing, sports information, compliance and the Iron Dukes, as well as additional weight training facilities. Both projects are also expected to be finished by fall 2016.
Despite the large number of moving parts—especially given the construction at many other locations on campus—White is confident that the investments will be worth the wait.
“We’re going to finish all the projects,” White said. “In my heart of hearts I know they’re going to be about a 14 on a 10-scale. They’re going to be just outstanding.”