Expansion of the "third largest city in Nebraska" became more noticeable Monday as the latest Memorial Stadium project reached a milestone.

Construction workers lifted the first pieces of steel onto the East Stadium's north end, beginning the  skeleton for the new facade.

Since May, construction had focused on foundations and footings, said John Ingram, associate athletic director for capital planning and construction at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"We've been doing everything below ground," he said. "Now we're really starting to work above ground. People will really begin to see the building grow."

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When completed by July 2013, the $63.5 million East Stadium expansion will include an additional 6,000 seats, including 38 suites, more than 3,000 balcony seats and about 2,000 club seats. It also will include a grand lobby and research facilities.

Ingram said the project was on schedule and on budget. By the 2012 football season, the East Stadium expansion should be clearly visible to fans, Ingram said.

"By the first football game, fans will get a pretty good idea what the East Stadium addition will look like," he said. "We're very excited about it. We hope the fans are, too."

Reach Kevin Abourezk at 402-473-7225 or kabourezk@journalstar.com.

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