TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY - The redevelopment of Kyle Field continued in a big way Sunday morning.
The west side of the football stadium at the heart of the Texas A&M University campus was imploded as part of what had been touted as $450 million worth of changes to update the Home of the 12th Man, but has now increased to $485 million.
Controlled Demolition, Inc. out of Maryland carried out of the implosion with a couple thousand pounds of explosives bringing down the second and third decks of Kyle’s alumni side, its press box and suites from above the third deck, and a trio of elevator shafts.
The first deck, which had portions that were built in the 1920s, was cleared out by the company overseeing the redevelopment, Manhattan-Vaughn, starting shortly after the final 2014 home game against LSU on Thanksgiving.
Now, its crews will work to clear out the thousands of pounds of rubble, then build up a new west side, which is scheduled to be done in time for the Aggies’ first home game of the 2015 season against Ball State on September 12.
Three elevators shafts came crashing down towards Wellborn Road, and came up short of reaching the roadway. As they neared the ground, the remaining structure began crumbling from the middle out to the ends.
Officials with the Texas A&M System and Manhattan-Vaughn have repeatedly stated that the project has remained on time and on budget. It is touted as the largest stadium redevelopment in the history of college football. When it’s done, more than 102,000 fans will be able to be seated for games.
According to System Chancellor John Sharp Sunday, additional donations since the project began have added $35 million to the pot, which will mean more amenities in the stadium when it's completed.
"(Donors) decided the seat backs ought to have higher quality, that we ought to have some restaurants on this side, that we ought to have better finishes," Sharp said in a speech shortly before the implosion.
It was Sharp who counted down the final seconds of the west side's existence before a set of A&M dignitaries pushed a ceremonial plunger on top of the West Campus Garage in front of guests and media.
"We just have to be proud for what's coming this fall, September 2015," said A&M System Board of Regents Chairman Phil Adams before the implosion. "I can't wait for us all to be together in the new Kyle Field."
Thousands more gathered at Reed Arena to check out the end of a huge section of The Home of the 12th Man.
Football has been played on the site since 1905, but permanent seating was first added in the late 1920s. Additional expansions were made in 1953, 1967, 1980 and 1999.
The A&M System Board of Regents signed off on the current redevelopment in May 2013. G. Rollie White Coliseum at the northeast corner of Kyle was torn down early in the process. Then, following the 2013 season, the first deck of the east side was torn out and replaced, the remaining decks were renovated, and the south end zone was enclosed with additional seating and facilities. New scoreboards and video screens were added, and a new press and media facility was built to be used starting in 2015.
Capacity was a few thousand seats more in 2014 than it will be in 2015, with records being set for attendance throughout the just-finished season. Once the new west side is completed, it will still be the largest football stadium in the state.
Work crews with Manhattan-Vaughn are set to spend this coming week beginning the debris-clearing process, although they will take Christmas off, according to project director Greg McClure. It will be just the second day the Kyle construction site will have not had crews at work, the first being Christmas 2013.