Despite renovations to the upper bowl at Cameron Indoor Stadium this year, the official magic number of 9,314 will remain unchanged.
The News & Observer's Steve Wiseman and Jonathan Alexander reported Wednesday morning that Duke is tearing down the old crow's nest at the top of Cameron due to safety concerns. A temporary platform for broadcasters will be used this season before a new crow's nest with permanent stairs is completed in 2018.
Since the new platform is not suspended from the ceiling, about 40 seats in the top three rows of Section 7 had to be removed for this season. Jon Jackson, Duke's senior associate director of athletics for external affairs, confirmed Thursday that most of those seats will be reinstalled prior to the 2018-19 season when a new crow's nest is finished. Although a few seats will not return, the stadium's listed capacity will not be adjusted.
Cameron Indoor Stadium's interior has remained relatively unchanged since 1987, when brass railings and student seats were installed to increase the capacity to 9,314. But there have been several slight modifications in the last 30 years, particularly to the graduate student sections behind both baselines, that may have added or subtracted a few seats.
Duke athletics administrators and fire marshals have agreed to keep the building's capacity at 9,314 instead of adjusting it for each modification. The small permanent changes to the upper bowl due to the new crow's nest will be treated the same way.
The new crow's nest will have to be built in accordance with the current fire code, according to the News & Observer's story. The old structure only had to follow the code at the time it was built, which caused safety hazards. The only way into the crow's nest was via portable ladders that were put away when the game started, and Wiseman and Alexander reported that ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale cut his head once when he leaped up and hit the ceiling. Longtime radio play-by-play announcer Bob Harris also said in the story that he slipped from the ladder once and had to be caught by staff supervisors.
Despite the dangers, the old crow's nest still inspired nostalgia for broadcasters that worked inside. When Harris' successor, David Shumate, was asked about climbing up there at his introductory press conference in June, his eyes lit up.
"That's part of the lore is being up there in the crow's nest," Shumate said. "I don't think you'd want to do it any other way."
But Shumate will have to wait a year to get a similar experience at every game.
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