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Irish Insights

File | AP
Notre Dame Stadium

Notre Dame Stadium could be changing

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick didn't just discuss the football schedules that the Irish released on Friday when he met with the media.

He also covered how the renovation project for Notre Dame Stadium, which was first looked at in May, is progressing.

"The progress has been great," Swarbrick said. "Getting to a real level of detail. That's where we need to be as we head into the winter trustee meeting where we'll do another review of it. There's no set deadline for it, but we hope we come out of that with the ability to move forward in a substantive way. So it's full speed away."

While the project is about more than football, as it includes attaching buildings to the stadium that could house a student center, media center, classrooms, conference center and other uses, Swarbrick also talked about how the project will affect the playing of games and fans' experiences in the stadium.

One of the big points was the debate over Notre Dame keeping a natural grass surface or going to an artificial playing surface. It is an issue Swarbrick said could be resolved in either January or February.

"We're looking at every option," Swarbrick said. "The biggest factor for me as I evaluate the options, beyond what is going to give the best results to student-athletes, is how would the timetable play out. Let's eliminate a hybrid field for a moment, because I don't think that would work for Notre Dame. That's what the Packers have. It involves a level of expense, systems that probably don't make sense for us. So you have synthetic and grass.

"If we were to stay with natural turf, real grass, we're going to go way down and rebuild the field. We're not going to take the top six inches off. We're going to go all the way down to the base, drainage, do a complete rebuild of the field. One of the reasons it's been so bad, we take off one layer of sod and put down another layer of sod. We haven't addressed the real issues we have to address."

Another issue is video boards in the stadium, which could include installing a Jumbotron.

"The issue of video in the stadium will be resolved, addressed as part of a larger design, what we're doing there," Swarbrick said. "Until that's done, until we've worked our way through all those issues, it will be just one element of the figuring out the design of the stadium."

Swarbrick said renovations would not start until after next season and the project would likely take two to three years to complete.

There will also be an increase of night games at Notre Dame Stadium going forward, Swarbrick said.

The Irish will continue to play its off-campus Shamrock Series game at night, and they will have five night games – three at home and two in the Shamrock Series – over a two-year period in the future.

Notre Dame will play Michigan at night at home as that rivalry ends for the foreseeable future after the game on Sept. 6, 2014. That was the only night game at Notre Dame Stadium listed on the schedules released Friday.

"The typical model will be in year one, one home night in the Shamrock Series, year two, two home night Shamrock Series, rotating like that," Swarbrick said.