Bridgeforth Stadium Expansion
Football is a competition, and football stadiums feed the competition between rival teams. Bridgeforth Stadium at James Madison University (JMU) fuels envy in local rivals with their $62.5 million stadium expansion enlarging the capacity from 14,500 to 25,000 patrons.
The goal for the 20-month expansion project was a face-lift of the former Madison Stadium, built in 1975. The expansion is the first significant work done since 1981. By adding an additional 10,000 seats to west side and north end zone, the stadium was able to provide a 1,000 seat club level, 15 hospitality suites, and a new press box cresting the top of the upper deck nearly 13 stories above the field.
The expansion project included the demolition of the then existing west-side stands, removal of the track, and construction of a multi-tiered complex. In addition to expanded seating, the stadium upgraded to a larger video and scoreboard and increased stadium lighting. Located on Newman Lake the stadium required an up-to-date flood wall in case of overflow.
Since the project timeline stretched over two football seasons, the project was phased to keep the stadium functioning during the season. Beginning in December of 2009, phase one included the demolition and rebuilding of the existing tier, moving the base 40 feet closer to the field to provide a wider, more stable structure. During the next off season, phase two began with the tier additions on the west and north ends of the stadium. These tiers were tied back into the existing parking garage through covered concourses connecting patrons to the club and stadium levels. Access is also provided through two major ramps on the west-side of the stadium.
Elevators and escalators, housed in the west-side concourse, move alumni, parents, and fans to the climate-controlled club, suites, and upper levels of the stadium. Suites feature premium furnishings, two flat-screen televisions, as well as indoor and outdoor seating space. Banquet facilities, open to community use, are also available with catering and seating for 500 guests.
To accommodate food and catering for patrons, a commissary kitchen was designed beneath the lower tier of the stadium. The full commercial kitchen operates on game day to facilitate the needs of patrons. The space also functions as the home of the JMU Hart School of Hospitality Management Culinary Arts Program. The culinary kitchen is designed for training and includes additional classrooms for year-round educational use.
Originally planned as a three-phase project to be stretched over three seasons, the team completed the project in only two phases to beat the challenging completion date – all without causing disruption to the football schedule.
The renovated, shiny stadium continues to stand tall with pride as the envy of rival football programs.