The 100-ton crane that had been towering above Amon G. Carter Stadium since December 2010 departed the TCU campus Friday. It was much more than just a symbolic sayonara.
It was a real sign that the $164 million renovations are winding down, with most of the heavy lifting completed. But there's plenty of work remaining; construction crews continued attending feverishly to the details inside the west-side stands during a tour last week. Crews are busy laying carpet, installing bathroom fixtures and tending to various tasks.
"The stadium is on schedule," TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said. "The finishing touches will be done by mid-July. We're now in the final stretch. I have no fears about being ready for opening day."
The west side is scheduled to be ready by mid to late July. The east-side construction, which didn't start in earnest until January, is scheduled to be ready Sept. 1, a week before the Horned Frogs' Sept. 8 season opener against Grambling State.
The interior design is slowly taking shape, revealing a large club area that hinted of a Titanic-type ballroom. Other amenities taking shape under the west-side stands include a separate, women's-only locker room for female officiating crew members, an emergency operations center exclusively for fire, police and paramedic officials to use on game days, and a large centrally located room designed for producing ice on game days. Producing its own ice will save TCU thousands of dollars each season, TCU associate athletic director Ross Bailey said.
"I tell people it takes as long to hang a bathroom fixture as it does a big piece of steel," Bailey said. "It's like framing a house. Everybody sees that stuff go up in a hurry, but it's the little stuff. They're putting carpet in the [opponents'] locker room downstairs and that's big. On the east side, they're starting to build bathrooms underneath."
In fact, the last piece of super structure -- a large slab of concrete that became a wall in the top southern corner of the east side's upper deck, was installed May 1. The day before, the last slab of concrete that will support a row of seats, was installed in the same corner.
"We're progressing right along," Del Conte said. "We, the Texas Christian community, have built a phenomenal facility."
And Frogs fans are going to be filling the stadium like never before. Del Conte expects the season-ticket base to surpass 30,000 seats this week. The TCU ticket office reported Monday that all reserved season tickets sold out. The reseating process for remaining general admission season tickets continues through Wednesday. Then, the rest of the general admission season tickets will be available to fans on the waiting list starting Monday, according to the TCU ticket office.
"I'm excited by how the Horned Frog nation has responded," Del Conte said. "To think we're closing in on 30,000 season ticket holders... no one could have imagined that two or three years ago."
TCU football had 12,000 season ticket holders in 2009. That improved to 22,000 last year as fans tried to ensure they'd be high on the priority points system when the renovated stadium was completed for the 2012 season.
Both video boards are ready and are just waiting for the control room to be equipped before they're operational. Same for the state-of-the-art sound system.
Bailey expects the east-side lights to be installed in the next week or so. And don't be fooled by what appears to be extra lighting beams, sans lights, jutting into the sky on either side of the stadium. Those are designed to appear like the spikes of a Horned Frog.
Like much of the stadium, those beams are ready; it just doesn't look like it.