When the Huskers kickoff the 2013 season against Wyoming, 6,000 more fans will occupy seats in a shiny new addition to Memorial Stadium.

But for now, East Stadium construction will detour fans for the second year in a row. 

The steel work is done on the $63.5 million expansion, and the beginnings of the new brick arches and concrete facade is starting to take shape. 

Butch Hug, Nebraska's associate athletic director of events, said it shouldn't take any longer for fans to get in the stadium despite new entrance plans. 

On Saturday, when NU opens its season against Southern Miss, fans with seats in the East Stadium will get their tickets scanned outside of the construction area -- near the Loop -- and will be funneled in through the center of the burgeoning facade. 

Once past the construction area, fans can head for their seats as they always have.

Although fewer entrances will be open on the east side of the stadium, there will be about the same number of ticket takers as in past years, Hug said.

East Stadium ticket holders also can enter through gates in the North and West stadiums.

John Ingram, associate athletic director for capital planning and construction, said events staff members have gotten used to working around construction after recent West and North stadium projects.

The East Stadium expansion's structural steel is completed, and the whole thing should be enclosed by November, he said. 

Some brick and concrete work is done. The brick, which is hard to find elsewhere on the stadium, was added to tie the East Stadium facade in with campus buildings nearby, Ingram said.

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Gate 20, which used to be the grand entrance to the stadium, will remain intact and be framed with glass.

The expansion adds 38 suites that can hold almost 1,000 people, more than 3,000 balcony seats and 2,000 club seats, a new grand lobby and research facilities for the university. It is scheduled to open by July.

All of the new seats will have backs and be a little larger than current ones.

Once complete, more than 92,000 people will fill up Memorial Stadium, which hasn't had a ticket go unsold since 1962.

The East Stadium's taller profile may help create a better gameday atmosphere and home-field advantage by holding in more noise. Its upper deck seats will rise higher than the West Stadium press box.

"I can't imagine it won't be louder," Ingram said. "We'll find out this weekend." 

Among some of the minor changes fans may notice:

* Concrete in the existing East Stadium was re-sealed and painted this offseason.

* A new TV camera platform has been built above South Stadium. What used to be a very windy, open-air space for one camera has been expanded and enclosed, shielding up to four cameras from the weather. It will allow both teams' video crews to record another angle of the game.

* Another skybox -- No. 62 at the stadium -- has been added to the northwest corner of the West Stadium press box. Last year, NU added one to the southwest corner.

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Reach Jordan Pascale at 402-473-7120, jpascale@journalstar.com or follow him @LJSPascale.


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