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Will the New CWS be ready on time?


“There will be a game.”

That’s what one construction worker told me today during my tour of the massive construction site that was once, and will soon be again, Commonwealth Stadium. Other than that, no promises. There is still a long, long way to go.

Senior associate AD Russ Pear, who is overseeing the renovation, knows that more than anyone. He told us, “If I said there’s not much left to do, you would all think I’m nuts. There is a lot of work to do and the commitment is there to get it done.”

Pear is confident the New CWS will be ready for the first home game in 44 days, but admits it won’t be 100 percent when fans storm through the gates to see the newly renovated stadium for the first time. He likened it to moving into a new house, but needing a little extra work to make it home. That “little extra work” better be minor, or UK will have a disaster on its hands.

Before I go any further, let me tell you I know very little about projects like this, if anything at all. I dressed up like a construction worker during a Village People skit on a cruise ship once, and that’s the extent of my knowledge in the field. I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, either.

With that small caveat in mind, let me say I’m not nearly as confident as Pear. I don’t have the blueprints or the schedule, and I haven’t been on site everyday to witness the progress, but I do have eyeballs. And those eyeballs saw a pretty big mess in every level of the stadium today. I had hoped at least one interior area would be near completion, and that was not the case. I just saw a whole bunch of dirt and unfinished business.

But enough about what I think. Take a walk with me through the New CWS renovation as it stands today and you can form your own opinion.


First and foremost, the most positive aspect of the renovation: the new synthetic field looks incredible. Click on any of the images below for a closer look at the turf and you will agree. From the checkerboard blue end zones to the alternating shades of green in the field of play, it will undoubtedly be one of the best looking fields in college football next season. Money very well spent.

When the team takes the brand new field, it will be coming from a brand new tunnel in the East end zone. The team used to sprint from an entrance in the Northeast corner, but now it will emerge from underneath the new student section and multi-purpose recruiting room.

Here’s a look at the tunnel…

Before sprinting through the tunnel, the team will gather in a new area behind the East end zone. In years past the players would return to the locker room after warming up on the field, but now they will go into a new pre-kickoff room 20-25 minutes before game time. I’m calling it the hype room, and it has a ways to go, as you can see…

Now for my favorite part of the entire renovation: the brand new multi-purpose recruiting room. This area will host recruits and their families on game days in a prime spot in the East end zone. The interior isn’t ready, but the patio is awesome.

(Oscar Combs is not a recruit.)

The main concourse is where I began to worry about completion. My first thought was “not a chance in hell,” but others seem optimistic. I’ll let you be the judge…

Some concrete flooring would make me feel better.

Hey, can we get this ladder out of here?



On to the South sideline, where the new Field Level, Mezzanine Level and Loge Club areas will be a hit with the big spenders. Here’s a look at the Mezzanine Level interior and deck…

If you’re the proud owner of a suite, check out how your spot looks as of today…

I’m sure you were hoping for something a little more suite-like. Good luck?

This was written on some dry wall…


And now for the press box, the area none of you care about. It was moved to the top of the stadium to make room for the Loge Club.

That’s a pretty cool shot of the entire stadium from the press view. Click that one.


Overall, it’s going to be a stressful 44 days for all parties involved. It will take a buzzer-beater to be completely ready for the opener. Can it be done? Russ Pear has convinced himself it will. Me, I have my doubts. I guess we’ll find out on September 5.

Either way, the New CWS is going to be awesome when it’s completed, whenever that may be. change-the-game

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

31 Comments for Will the New CWS be ready on time?

  1. hangin#9
    8:55 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    I can’t wait to get in there but at the same time I hope it’s not rushed. Don’t want any safety issues to arise.

  2. Dustin
    8:58 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    The field looks awesome!

  3. Eshock
    9:05 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    No offense Drew, but what was the last construction site you’ve been on? They know their timeline, and media members’ opinions won’t give us much based on it. It only takes a couple of days to put up drywall in the areas you said ‘not a chance in hell,’ it takes longer to put the stuff in behind it though – it just depends how much more of that is left

    • inside info2
      9:40 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

      i guess you missed all the disclaimers where he said he really had no construction experience at all other than dressing up all the time as a gay character in a 70s/80s man-band.

    • inside info2
      10:10 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink


  4. Dirty Old Cat
    9:08 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    We got us a real good stadium. Now go get some wins Stoops

  5. Twick39
    9:19 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    I work in construction and most of the worries drew seems to have are aesthetic issues. Drywall and paint go a long way to the untrained eye.

  6. Not Teddy Valentine
    9:56 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    Stadium aside, which is a huge mess right now. The traffic, parking and travel logistics is WAY behind. Folks, count on your tailgate to be a complete audible up to game day and not what will be a positive experience for the first few games.

    • Leuther
      10:07 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

      Good call. I won’t be attending any of the games now.

  7. Bluetothebone
    10:02 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    I cannot believe that Oscar Combs would even step foot in CWS… he is so scared of Kentucky football because of basketball does he not remember… Or anyone not remember… That he said that there was no way CWS could be renovated because it was about to fall down… another one of those pathetic basketball only people…

  8. pooptooth
    10:12 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    it will be close. I think what’s going to be missing is all the cool stuff. Like graphics and other small things that will make the stadium renovation stand out.

    • All in the cards
      10:51 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

      The only thing missing is a winning football team to play in it!

  9. Mr nick
    10:41 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    Had a chance to bid this one but knew the timeline and passed. We are great at appeasing the customer knowing what they want isn’t going to happen. It’s worth the wait for detail but we all take this very seriously given the grand scheme of what’s happening. Flooring will be in, paint will be on but details like images, trim, and other things above your head won’t be noticeable. I foresee the biggest fan problem being trucks, urinals, and machinery on site that won’t be hidden. After a strong tailgate…….. This all will come to pass.

    By week 3. Done. Go big blue!!!!

  10. Earl Skaggs-Stein
    11:49 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

    Heard they found a lot of asbestos during construction but desided to leave it for extra ambience

    • CardFan502
      11:53 pm July 22, 2015 Permalink

      Yo, Papa Johns was built on a toxic waste dump. My kid grew a third eye on his face. Looks boss!

    • 450-lb Cat
      12:02 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

      Thank you Wisconsin

    • Wisconsin
      1:24 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

      We did what Louisville never can seem to do – beat the Cats. You’re welcome!

  11. RUPPS_rhetoric
    12:09 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

    I see construction projects of all kinds on a weekly basis; granted not a stadium, but large scale commercial projects. I get why people think there is “A LOT” of work to do; and there is, to an extent. However from what I’ve gathered, all of the structure, mechanical’s, plumbing, and electrical look pretty much in place. That’s the time-consuming stuff. In a few of the pictures I’ve seen, you can see they’re hanging and mudding drywall. That’s a key step in the process. Next up… the FINISHING: painting, installing ceilings, light fixtures, casework, flooring, etc… That stuff CAN go pretty quick, assuming they have the workforce doing this that I think they do. Not to mention, at this point, on a job this big, all the materials are staged and ready to go at a moment’s notice. You’d be amazed at the progress you would see if you went back in 3 weeks; I can promise you that. They are at the phase right before you start finishing and it essentially looks very incomplete at this point. Looks however can be deceiving as they are about to turn a major corner and you’ll see DRASTIC changes in the coming weeks. I expect most of the stuff the general public will encounter on opening day will be 95% complete. I know there will be a lot of armchair general contractors and construction experts commenting today; but as someone who is in the industry; I feel that they are in better shape than most think. Just my $.02. GO CATS! CAN’T WAIT!

    • Henry
      12:25 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

      Great post! Nothing will stop this train before the first UK football game. Yes, there will be a punchlist. But that is minor. Go Cats!!

  12. Angelo
    2:21 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

    Great honest post Drew. I admire your admission of a lack of construction experience. In your previous post about Murray you said you try not to get too excited about new recruits… I do too, but it is impossible. So give up, your fans and readers like excited writing. Especially about new players!

  13. timer2
    6:09 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

    As long as the field is ready I really don’t care about any of the other stadium issues. Parking is gonna be the issue. The folks at the impound lot are gonna get rich off the first two or three home games.

  14. Buckeye Fan
    7:40 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

    Seems awfully small for a college football stadium…

    • Josh
      7:55 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

      Buckeyes just won a title and you’re trolling an update on CWS?

    • RealCatsFan
      10:39 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

      Josh, he’s still butthurt over Jorts playing dodgeball off his star player’s chest and knocking his buckeyes out of the NCAA tourney. That and the fact that their mascot looks like he has a turd for a head.

    • J-Dub421
      11:11 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

      Your girlfriend thinks you’re awfully small.

    • Brian
      11:28 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

      Josh, I’m telling ya, it’s an obvious UofL troll.

  15. 8 god
    9:32 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

    I love the aesthetics of the new field, but the athlete in me is going to miss the images of players caked in mud and grass stains during a hard-fought, rainy contest. That’s silly, I know, but some of the most iconic images in football are of players with paint and grass stains (think Tebow) and turf in the corner of their facemasks.

  16. Just Play
    10:08 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

    I’m just glad they got that “Changing the Game” placard up in time.

    Nothing says college football more than a litany of vacuous slogans, non-sequiturs and impotent catchphrases. How many marketing majors and SID’s do schools employ now? Jeez.

    • CardFan502
      11:41 am July 23, 2015 Permalink


  17. kentuckyrld
    11:20 am July 23, 2015 Permalink

    It is hard to understand why a bunch of so-called sports reporters would take it upon themselves to look at a construction site and have the audacity to predict whether or not the project will be completed at a certain time. Sports reporters obviously are not overly intelligent or they would be working at a real job. For them to think they could even remotely understand engineering and construction is just funny.

  18. BiggestCatsFanInOhio
    12:35 pm July 23, 2015 Permalink

    Here’s what everyone needs to understand: any room that has even one panel of drywall hung up is almost complete. Drywall cannot go up until all of the building inspections have taken place and all trades (electrical, mechanical, plumbing, structural, etc) are signed off on. Hanging drywall, painting, and installing the ceiling and flooring materials do not take much time at all, especially with a large crew of workers. The biggest challenge right now is reconnecting the parking lots to the stadium, by completing the drive and walks, so that guests don’t have to cross temporary pathways through a construction area to get into the stadium on gameday.