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Let’s Redesign Notre Dame Stadium: Seating

Our second entry looks at the seating type, number, and arrangement

Notre Dame Stadium Seating
Photo by the author

So I’m a day late here, BUT we’re ready to get started on week two of our Notre Dame Stadium redesign. This week we’re looking at seating capacity, type, layout, and everything else that comes with it.

First we’re going to start by looking at survey results, so again thank you everybody that filled it out. Results were mixed in terms of seating questions so some people will like our end results and some will not. Most people’s satisfaction fell somewhere between 5-8, so good but not great. A good number of people wanted to bring in actual seats while others were happy with bleachers. The good news is we can do both. Finally, the vast majority of you think that the atmosphere in Notre Dame Stadium needs to be more hostile to opposing teams, so we are going to try to make that happen.

Since they get a dedicated area to sit, we’re going to start with the student section and we can get a lot of the desired responses accomplished here by changing this spot. Instead of keeping the student section in the northwest corner of the stadium we’re going to shift them slightly and keep the students behind the north goal posts. Limiting the student section to the north end of the stadium allows us to keep the students to the lower bowl only, keeping a view of Touchdown Jesus uninterrupted from the field. Since they stand all game anyway we make the student section standing room only. Ideal seating angle for stadium seating is around 22 degrees. If we model the student section on some other standing room only supporter sections, most family Borussia Dortmund’s famed “Yellow Wall” in Germany, we can increase the seating angle to 33 degrees to make a more intimidating stand.

Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City: Group G - UEFA Champions League
Borussia Dortmund’s Yellow Wall with steep incline and standing room only.
Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images
Ideal Seating Angle
By Author
Standing Room Angle
By Author

Now that the student section is figured out we can focus on the rest of the seating. Remember, we’re keeping the original lower bowl so we’re going to build on top of that. Since we need a press box anyway we’re going to keep it on the west side of the stadium and can return it to the original location at the top of the lower bowl. Nearly 60% of you thought that the seating capacity of the current stadium was just right so we need to add seats. If we add an upper bowl we can get close to that but remember, we’re keeping the north end open for the view of Touchdown Jesus so we’ll have to keep adding. Several responses to the survey asked to add a third tier so that’s what we’re going to do. Some others wanted to keep the new scoreboard which will fall right into the third deck anyway, breaking up the east and west sides. While several of you expressed the desire to remove any suites or luxury seating that doesn’t seem practical to me for a University like Notre Dame. What we can do though is keep the suites at the top level, on the east side similar to their current location as part of the Campus Crossroads because, well look at this view. Additional seating at the upper levels, at a steeper angle, also allows us to increase the amount of noise kept inside the stadium.

View from Campus Crossroads suites
Photo by Author

Now that we have seats laid out we’re going to decide what types of seats go where. Results again were mixed so we’re going to include a combination of regular seats and bleachers. The students of course will be standing but the easiest solution is to make the rest of the lower bowl regular seating. This decreases the capacity slightly but with the addition of the third level we’ll make up for that as well as the removal of the north end. The two upper bowls will be bleachers creating a variety of seating options for everybody. Here’s a quick diagram of where things stand through our seating.

Stadium Seating Diagram
By Author

Now that our seating is in place we can keep moving forward with our design. and build out from here. Next week we’re going to look at stadium circulation, entrances, and concourses to fit around our seating layout.