On Saturday, May 14, 2022, The University of Wisconsin-Madison hosted its annual Commencement Ceremony, celebrating the achievements of graduating students with their family and friends. Historically, this event is always held at the University’s Camp Randall Stadium; this year was no different even though the Camp Randall South End Zone Renovation is underway. I sat down with Superintendent, Cary Karman, who had a hand in helping make Commencement at Camp Randall a success for 2022 graduates.
As the Tough Job Experts, we aspire to complete projects that seem impossible. When The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) requested to keep Commencement at Camp Randall despite construction, we knew we were the contractor for the job. From day one, we collaborated with UW and implemented Commencement as a firm milestone within our schedule to make the project a success.
Camp Randall South End Zone Renovation Project
The Camp Randall South End Zone project is a fully enhanced premium seating renovation for the UW football stadium. The project includes replacing the south end zone seating with indoor and outdoor hospitality clubs, premium food and beverage offerings, and many more upscale amenities. This massive seating enhancement is being completed between two football seasons, leaving just 9 months from groundbreaking to ribbon cutting. With this time-sensitive project, cutting out a week for Commencement was no simple task.
The challenge was to transform an active jobsite into a venue worthy of commemorating this major milestone for 6,800 Badger graduates. We coordinated with event planning company, Frost Chicago, the week before Commencement as they delivered 11 semitruck loads of material to the jobsite to setup. Additional preparation included transporting out equipment, sweeping the football field, and setting up barriers to ensure safety. No detail was too small. Cary recalled a specific request from UW – hang a small, yet symbolic UW Flag on the tip of our big red crane parked in the background of the stage.
Here you can see a quick timelapse video of the last month at Camp Randall during construction, setup, Commencement, and takedown.
Once Commencement day arrived, we had team members on site to ensure everything ran smoothly. While the crowds filled in, the day reached unexpected record-breaking temperatures. Cary Karman took action to help Commencement guests. He moved barriers, allowing more shaded seating among others.
Cary has played a crucial role in multiple UW Athletic projects, “I have worked with UW Athletics for almost 20 years on various projects, and JP Cullen always takes action to get a construction site cleaned up for a planned event.”
Barry Alvarez said it best during the last major stadium renovation, “They work all day and then have to button-up so 80,000+ people could come and enjoy the game. Talk about people really committed to their work, to doing the job well and around our schedule.”
It’s not every day you have to button up your jobsite so 40,000+ people can walk through it. The construction did not impact attendance capacity in any way. A huge thanks to the project team who made sure everything is safe and secure so University of Wisconsin-Madison could hold Commencement for the class of 2022 at Camp Randall. The Class of 2022 had a unique Commencement experience – a peek beneath the turf so to speak and are now part of a new chapter in Camp Randall’s history. Congratulation to all Graduates!
About Camp Randall
The forth-oldest college football stadium in the United States, Camp Randall has amassed a rich history for Wisconsin. More can of that history can be found here, as well as more info about the ongoing South End Zone Project found here: CR Future: South End Zone Renovation | CampRandallStadium.com
About the Author
I am Liesl Yerke, second year Marketing Intern for JP Cullen. I am going into my senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Marketing and Philosophy. I love seeing JP Cullen work with UW as they both have provided so much growth for me. I look forward to my own commencement at Camp Randall once the South End Zone is complete! On Wisconsin!