Construction Takes Over UNT

Transformation of old stadium, student union lead the work

By Brian Scott
|  Friday, Jun 21, 2013  |  Updated 7:33 PM CDT
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The University of North Texas has several construction projects under way making room for more students and a new track complex.

Brian Scott, NBC 5 Denton County Reporter

The University of North Texas has several construction projects under way making room for more students and a new track complex.

A two-year, multimillion-dollar transformation is underway at the University of North Texas, starting with the partial demolition of Fouts Field.

This week, crews began setting up to tear down three sides of the old football stadium, including the visitor's seats and end zone bleachers. The Apogee Stadium went up across the freeway in 2011.

Crews will work through the end of August to transform the venue into a track and field area to better accommodate university's growing team.

Don Lynch, system facilities administration director, said the track and field team's longtime home will soon be better targeted to its needs. The team needs space to grown when it moves to the larger Conference USA on July 1.

"We're making a move to conference USA, a big move for the University," Lynch said. "It's a great move that will get us a lot more exposure and help in recruiting."

Lynch said the university would try to save pieces of the 1950s stadium, such as several old stone panels depicting different sports.

Fouts Field isn't the only area on campus getting a face-lift.

Blue construction fences cover a large part of UNT for several projects. The biggest is the state-of-the-art student union being constructed on the same site as the old one.

The building will include expanded dining and lounge areas, a larger bookstore and, for the first time, office space for student organizations.

"It's been student involvement from day one, so they're with us every step of the way, even picking out furniture, picking out colors," said Zane Reif, union director.

"I really think it'll probably be one of the top five unions in the country when we're done with it," said Reif, who has remodels of other student unions.

The building will employ sustainable elements to go along with the university's push for a greener lifestyle. It will also include lighting elements that emphasize school spirit.

The bookstore will also have new management. Barnes & Noble takes over July 1 in a temporary location.

"We had to do a temporary bookstore, a temporary dining services area," Reif said. "I'm even losing my office for a little bit."

The current union will shut down during the construction for a total of two years. During the project, everything will have temporary quarters, including an inflatable bookstore.

Reif said UNT hopes to iron out the growing pains during the summer so most students have an easy transition in the fall.

At an estimated cost of about $130 million, the student union will be UNT's biggest makeover project.

In April 2012, students approved a $115 fee increase to pay for the new facility. Of the 10 percent of the student body that voted, 54 percent approved the increase.

University leaders say the projects demonstrate UNT's success and growth. Between fall 2005 and 2012, enrollment increased from 32,047 to 35,778, and the university hopes to see another increase in this fall.

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