On Aug. 20, 2017, over three and a half years after the university first announced its Campus Crossroads project, the new and improved Notre Dame Stadium opened to the public for the “New & Gold Game.”
The focus, however, was not really on football. The eyes of fans, locals and students were directed toward the stadium renovations as well as the new buildings: Corbett Family Hall, O’Neill Hall and Duncan Student Center.
Around the stadium, the upgrades are unmistakable. The student section gates, once labelled by massive cloth signs, now have large gold titles to divide classes on days of games.
The outer concourse is totally new, including sleek section signs, blown-up pictures from Notre Dame history and numerous television screens so that fans won’t miss a minute of the action. “The outer concourse is gorgeous. It reminds me of a nice fancy hotel. It really does,” said longtime usher John Emmendorfer. Going into his seventh season working in the stadium, Emmendorfer is no stranger to the way things used to look. He could not be happier with the changes. “I know Knute Rockne would be proud.”
Inside the stadium lies perhaps the biggest change of all: the videoboard. Spanning 54.1 feet high, 95.5 feet wide and including 4,798,976 pixels, the stadium’s Jumbotron is impossible to miss. It hangs above the south endzone and gives fans a chance to view the game like never before. In addition, it shows replays, hype videos, highlights from teams across campus and Notre Dame advertisements to keep fans engaged during breaks in the game.
“The videoboard is amazing. I could hear it from my dorm all the way across campus,” first year Jacob Plocher told Scholastic. Living in Knott Hall, a little under a half-mile from the south end of the stadium, Plocher knows that the videoboard will get the stadium and its fans loud and rowdy, both this year and in years to come.
On the east side of the stadium lies the building where most of the videoboard’s content is made: Corbett Family Hall. Notre Dame Studios, which includes a state-of-the-art control room, a new replay room, several editing areas and comfortable offices for media employees, fills up a large part of Corbett’s first floor. “The technology that we have been equipped with is unparalleled in collegiate athletics,” said Fighting Irish Media Producer Tony Simeone. “Our students will now work with equipment that is outfitted in professional broadcast control rooms and trucks acrossthe country.”
Also open to the public on gamedays are floors seven, eight and nine of Corbett, which have some of the best game-watching spots outside of the stadium. From premium seating, to an elegant ballroom, to press boxes, the upper levels of Corbett provide a plush alternative to the hard bleachers outside.
Floors two through five of Corbett are still under construction, but upon completion, they will house new anthropology and psychology classrooms, labs, computer rooms and a student lounge.
To the south is O’Neill Hall. This is not to be confused with the dorm, which is now officially “O’Neill Family Hall,” but rather the large building on which the videoboard hangs. The main attraction of O’Neill on gamedays is the South Club, Notre Dame’s high-end version of a sports bar. There are ample tables and TVs for fans to watch the games, tons of old Notre Dame memorabilia decking the walls and even wooden seating from the old stadium to add a special touch. The South Club also hosts private events for interested parties.
O’Neill is not completely open yet, either. The floors that are being finished will soon hold a rehearsal hall, a recital hall, a music library and the Department of Music offices, to name some.
Finally, on the west side of the stadium is perhaps the most discussed of the three new buildings: the Duncan Student Center. The first six floors, which will house meeting rooms, lounges, the Career Center, RecSports and new dining options for Notre Dame students, will open in January. The top three levels, however, are open and nearly identical to those in Corbett. They too have a ballroom, premium seating and TVs. Mike Tirico and Doug Flutie of NBC Sports also enjoy games on the Duncan side from their press box.
On top of being aesthetically pleasing, Corbett Family Hall, O’Neill Hall and Duncan Student Center are environmentally friendly. Twenty percent of the buildings’ materials are recycled content, and the heating, cooling and ventilation is almost 20 percent more efficient than that required by building code, university architect Doug Marsh confirmed. The three buildings will pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in the weeks to come, according to a Notre Dame press release on Aug. 23.
Though the renovations have generated quite a buzz already, the new Notre Dame Stadium is just getting started.