No longer just a vision, the Carl Smith Center, home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium, is a facility befitting Virginia's stature as one of the nation's elite Division I-A football programs. It was dedicated at UVa's 2000 season opener against Brigham Young on September 2.
Following a landmark $25 million challenge grant from UVa alumnus Carl W. Smith in June of 1997, the University of Virginia embarked on an ambitious three-year plan to renovate existing Scott Stadium and increase its capacity to over 60,000. The project was completed at a cost of approximately $86 million, with the balance coming from additional fund-raising and income generated by the stadium.
The expanded stadium includes new seats and new upper decks arranged in a bowl shape to the south of the field. With the addition of 15,000 seats, the stadium's capacity has gone from ranking in the bottom third to the top third in size among ACC schools.
The final phase of the stadium renovation project was completed during the summer of 2000. It entailed: constructing the south bowl's upper deck, expanding the President's Box on the east side to include a donor recognition seating area and lounges, building 44 luxury suites, finishing the upper level of new Bryant Hall, creating a 600-space, three-level parking garage behind new Bryant Hall, expanding the press box area on the west side, adding a pergola plaza above the hill on the north end, and replacing the bleachers on the northwest and northeast sides of the stadium with permanent seating.
A total of 12 additional luxury suites were constructed on the northeast and northwest sides of the stadium for the 2001 season.
Featuring many enhanced amenities and a distinctive architectural appearance all its own, the stadium is designed to create the ultimate gameday experience for the players, coaches, fans and media.
In addition to the stadium's existing main north entrance, four other major entrances were built in 2000 to improve the flow of pedestrian traffic throughout the facility. New bathrooms and concession areas were added to reduce the amount of time fans spend waiting in lines. More than 220 television monitors were installed in various locations, including two at each concession area, so fans can follow the action on the field even when they aren't in their seats. Stadium seating for persons with disabilities was also expanded.
Providing exclusive gameday accommodations, the luxury suites wrap around the south end of the stadium. Each one is climate-controlled and carpeted, and contains a private rest room and TV monitor as well as a refrigerator, sink, cabinets and other furnishings. A movable glass partition opens from each suite onto a separate outdoor seating area. Offering an unobstructed view of the entire field, the seating areas are covered and have a TV monitor and overhead heat lamps.
The renovated President's Box and donor recognition seating area stretch across the east side of the stadium, while the renovated press box extends across the west side of the stadium.
The upper level of new Bryant Hall houses: the Virginia Football Hall of Fame, Hall of Champions conference room, a football alumni room, the UVa athletic ticket office, athletic development, athletic academic advising, sports promotions, Cavalier Sports Marketing and Virginia Student Aid Foundation. It also serves as the new headquarters for University Career Services, formerly the Office of Career Planning.
The lower level of the south bowl and new locker room areas were completed before the start of the 1999 season. The original Bryant Hall-a dining and locker room facility-was removed in November of 1998 and rebuilt to include expanded locker rooms and 30,000 feet of additional space.
A new state-of-the-art video board, dubbed 'Hoo Vision, was unveiled at UVa's 1998 season opener against Maryland. It sits on a 100-foot-high tower in the north end of the stadium and features a giant 21-foot by 27-foot video screen which displays live game action and instant replays as well as pre-produced athletic department programming. Other components of 'Hoo Vision include a scoreboard and message center, and a new stadium sound system.
As part of the 'Hoo Vision project, the north end hillside seating area was moved 30-feet closer to the playing field. Terraced levels were added to make the area more safe and accessible.
At the time of his pledge, Smith's $25 million gift was the largest single monetary donation in the University's history. In addition to providing the impetus for the expansion of Scott Stadium, a portion of the gift-$2 million-went toward construction of the first football stadium at the University's College at Wise in Smith's hometown of Wise, Va.
Smith was a lineman during the late 1940s and early '50s-one of UVa's great football eras-under noted coach Art Guepe.
Following Smith's graduation from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1951, he served in the Army and worked as an investment banker. In 1961, he founded AMVEST Corp., an international company specializing in coal mining, natural gas production, trading and finance. Smith served on the University's Board of Visitors from 1980 to 1988, chaired its Finance Committee, and was a two-term trustee of the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration Foundation. He also was chairman of the Jeffersonian Restoration Advisory Board, which oversees efforts to preserve the University's historic buildings.
Carl and his wife, Hunter J. Smith, have supported many University endeavors over the years. Previous gifts were given to the schools of architecture, law, medicine, and business, the Children's Medical Center, and the Jefferson Scholars Program.
The principal architectural firm working on the expansion of Scott Stadium was Heery International, Inc., of Atlanta, one of the world's foremost designers of sports facilities. Also working with Heery on the project was VMDO Architects, PC, of Charlottesville.
Representing another major athletic facility improvement, David A. Harrison III Field was dedicated during UVa's 1995 football home opener against William & Mary on September 2. The new natural grass field replaced artificial turf which was first installed at Scott Stadium in 1974. The field utilizes the new-generation Prescription Athletic Turf system which is designed to continually monitor and control the amount of available water and air below the surface. UVa became the first university athletic program to install the patented PAT system.
The field is named after David A. Harrison III of Hopewell, Va., who pledged $5 million to support the UVa football program. Harrison earned his bachelor's degree from Virginia in 1939 and graduated from the UVa law school in 1941. Both he and his father played football while students at the University.
In addition to funding the replacement of artificial turf in Scott Stadium with a new natural grass field, the gift made possible the construction of a new artificial turf practice and competition field near University Hall, and established an endowment for future departmental needs.
The original Bryant Hall complex was completed for the start of the 1985 season at a cost of nearly $3 million. It was named in honor of J.C. Herbert Bryant, a 1932 Virginia graduate and one of the principal benefactors of the structure.
While a student at UVa, Bryant lettered in football, boxing, baseball and track. He played in the Scott Stadium dedication game against VMI in 1931 and his field goal in that game accounted for the first points ever scored in the stadium.
Scott Stadium has long been considered one of the most beautiful football stadiums anywhere, with Monticello Mountain as a backdrop and the Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon.
Entering its 70th season of college football, Scott Stadium was the gift of Frederic William Scott and Elisabeth Strother Scott, and was dedicated to the memory of his parents, Frederic Robert Scott and Frances Branch Scott. Responding to recommendations of a Stadium Committee, which had been appointed by then-President Edgar Shannon, the University decided to renovate the stadium in 1974. In a splendid gesture of generosity, the descendants of Frederic W. Scott pledged $360,000 for a comprehensive renovation. The athletic department provided an additional $125,000 to install new aluminum seating, and an anonymous benefactor made an additional gift of $300,000 for the purchase of an artificial playing surface, which was replaced in 1981. The artificial playing surface was replaced again in 1988.
Following a two-year delay due to construction problems, the stadium opened its upper decks on the east and west sides for the first time in the fall of 1980. The additional 12,000 seats in the upper level brought the permanent seating capacity to 40,000. Completion of the lower south bowl seating area increased the stadium's permanent seating to 44,000 for the 1999 season. With the addition of the south bowl's upper deck and expansion of the northeast and northwest sides of the stadium, the seating capacity for 2000 soared to 61,500. That figure includes seating for approximately 5,000 on the north end hillside.
A permanent lighting system was added to Scott Stadium in 1983, bringing the excitement of night football to Charlottesville. Before the 1986 season, Scott Stadium successfully underwent repairs to correct deterioration of the foundation in the stadium's original seating.
The press box is named for Captain Norton Pritchett, Virginia's director of athletics from 1935 until his death in 1951. It was originally built in 1980 as the condition of an anonymous donor's gift. The press box was expanded to virtually twice its original size for the 2000 season. It includes: state-of-the art computer connections, a spacious glassed-in reception and dining area, a large open-air working press area, rest rooms, and numerous booths for radio, television, visiting and home coaches, and stadium personnel.
A record-setting crowd of 60,435 was on hand for UVa's stadium dedication game last season against BYU. That mark was broken three weeks later, however, when a crowd of 60,695 turned out to watch the Cavaliers host ACC rival Clemson. That is the largest attendance for a football game in Virginia state history.
In 1995, Virginia hosted Florida State in the first-ever Thursday night game in Charlottesville. Playing in front of a sell-out crowd and a national television audience, the Cavaliers defeated the second-ranked Seminoles 33-28. With the victory, Virginia snapped FSU's 29-game winning streak against ACC teams since joining the conference in 1992. Florida State became the highest-ranked team to ever fall to the Cavaliers.
UVa is 65-18 at home during the past 14 seasons, including perfect marks of 7-0 in 1991, 6-0 in 1989 and 5-0 in 1987 and 1998. Since the first game played in the original stadium on October 18, 1931-against Virginia Military Institute-350 games have been played in the facility. Virginia enters the 2001 season with a 194-144-12 all-time record in the structure.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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