Argus Leader: Vikings' New Home Takes Shape

Amid a relatively warm winter, Augustana fans have been seen poking their heads over the Elmen Center parking lot to get a glimpse of construction of Kirkeby-Over Stadium, the new on-campus football home for the Vikings, which will open its gates Sept. 5.

The facility - made possible by a $6.1 million gift from football equipment manager and booster Bob Hall - is materializing quickly. The synthetic playing surface is down, a large number of bleachers are in, and construction cranes are reaching high into the sky as the press box and luxury suites take shape.

By the time the entire facility is finished - and it will be fully completed by the time the football team takes the field - the total cost will exceed $10 million, and it will be able to seat more than 7,000 fans.

"As people drive by they can see it starting to take shape, and it's going to be a gorgeous facility," said Vikings athletic director Bill Gross. "We're just so excited to bring football back to campus."

The FieldTurf surface has about a week's worth of glue and trim work to go before it's permanently installed, but the bright green can be clearly seen from the parking lot. Plans for exactly what would be inside the stadium were a work in progress for some time, but they're finalized and being installed currently.

The west-side bleachers are already filling in. They'll be split into two levels, similar to USF's Bob Young Field, with eight rows on the lower level and 17 rows on the upper deck - which, in total, will hold about 3,600. A portion of seats on that side will be chair-backed.

The east side will have 15 rows of bleacher seating, with room for 2,100. There's room for another 1,000 or so fans on the grass berms that will sit six feet above the recessed field.

The press box is two levels, and work is currently ongoing to complete it, something the warm weather has allowed crews to get an early start with.

The elevated area holds 10 suites, plus a bonus-sized "presidential suite" that seats 24 people; nine rooms for working press and coaches/scouting; a scoreboard control room; and men's and women's restrooms on both levels.

There are a total of 144 actual seats in the two-tiered suites, which will sit just in front of the entirely glass wall that faces the field. Work on the HD-ready scoreboard should begin soon, as the four support beams for it were recently raised.

Gross acknowledged that, given the current state of the economy, the Vikings were extremely lucky to get their stadium plans finalized and funded when they did.

They're still raising money to complete some projects, including the new soccer, track and tennis complexes. But Gross gave no indication that any of them are in danger of being sidetracked.

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Matt Zimmer
Argus Leader
mzimmer@argusleader.com