Four-year project finishing up at Fayetteville

Updated: August 7, 2003, 9:19 AM ET

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- When Razorback fans travel to northwest Arkansas on Sept. 6 for the first home game of the season, against Tulsa, they should find little sign of the stadium construction work that has been under way for several years -- except for the finished product.

University officials say construction crews should wrap up cosmetic finishes to the facade of Reynolds Razorback Stadium by this weekend. The project is the final phase of a four-year, $117 million expansion.

Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles said Wednesday that completion of the project was made possible by strong support for the Razorback team from its fans. No state appropriations, university money or student fees were used for any part of the stadium project, he said from his office suite overlooking the stadium.

The final piece of the expansion enclosed part of the west grandstand exterior facade and added a more finished look to the facility, which has grown from around 50,000 to about 72,000 seats.

If fans notice little construction work, they will notice some other things, according to executive associate athletic director Bill Gray, who has supervised the project.

What fans will mostly notice, Gray said, is more generous sidewalk space as they walk between Razorback Road and the stadium's west exterior. He pointed to a wide concourse area that replaced a narrow sidewalk and gravel.

Workers with Kinco Inc. Constructors also used red brick to dress up the west elevator tower, formerly adorned with concrete. A pedestrian bridge over Razorback Road has been converted from a dark bronze to a light tan that matches metal stadium exteriors, and some metal railings near the northwest corner have been replaced with brick.

While performing the stadium's cosmetic facelift, workers uncovered some wear-and-tear to the three dozen or so support piers for the west upper deck, Gray said.

"None of that is serious right now," he said, but athletic officials decided to perform preventive maintenance now.

Strengthening the piers increased the project's estimated cost of $1.6 million to $1,831,000, Gray said.

Broyles estimated the stadium's next seating expansion wouldn't be needed before 2010. The new south end zone was designed so that a future expansion could take the stadium from 72,000 to 80,000 seats.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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