Notre Dame to expand stadium

The University of Notre Dame announced plans Wednesday for a $400 million renovation to historic Notre Dame Stadium that would add between 3,000 and 4,000 premium seats and include new academic buildings.

The expansion of the iconic 84-year-old, 80-795-seat stadium will take place on the west, east and south sides. Inside the stadium, Notre Dame plans an updated scoreboard. Additionally, the press box will move from the west to east side.

"At a time when so many would call into question the viability of the collegiate sports model in America, it is fitting that Notre Dame, a perennial leader in the measures of academic performance by student-athletes, offers a bold vision providing emphatic evidence that the full integration of athletics into the academic mission of a university is not only possible but desirable," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said.

"Coach Brian Kelly and I are thrilled that one of the most famous sports venues in the world will now also be known as one of the most innovative educational facilities."

The new buildings include a center for student life, recreation and a career center on the west side, the anthropology and psychology departments and a digital media center on the east side, and the Department of Music and sacred music on the south side. The north side, with the view of "Touchdown Jesus," will remain unchanged.

Fundraising is expected to begin soon for the project, which could be completed in three years. The plan was presented in Rome on Wednesday during the university's board of trustees meeting.

"What's exciting about this project is it brings together athletics, faculty and academics, research and a student center, so it's an integrated model," Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, said.

Jenkins said no decision has been made on whether to switch to an artificial playing surface in the stadium that opened in 1930 and was expanded in 1997.

The premium seating areas also could be utilized for conferences, classes and other academic events.

"We really have a vision to dream big and look at possibilities that haven't yet been realized," Jenkins said. "I see this as part of that ongoing effort to dream bigger."

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