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Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: bhandwerger@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

NEW ORLEANS Tulane's Yulman Stadium is on schedule to be ready for the Green Wave's home opener Sept. 6 against Georgia Tech, a game set to be the first on-campus since the days in the old Tulane Stadium, a school official said.

'As long as the rain stays away, they've been keeping a pretty good pace,' said Yvette Jones, the school's vice president for university relations and development. 'We've committed to making that first game on the 6th. The contractor has told us they will have us game ready.'

The stadium project will cost $73 million when finished after factoring in moving teams off campus and adjusting, Jones said.

One of the ways the school kept the cost of the stadium down was to eschew luxury suites for two big club levels that have views of not only the field, but are expected to have sweeping panoramas looking back at the city.

With the structure of the stadium nearly complete, Jones said one of the positives so far has been how the build has been on par with what the school had originally planned when drawing up details of the structure.

'I think we actually did pretty good on the planning. I can't think of anything we included that we didn't originally have,' she said, adding, 'what I'm very pleased about is we haven't had to cut anything out as the price has kind of gone up as we moved through construction.'

That there was even a possibility for a stadium is the 'first miracle' considering the campus' land-locked design,' Jones said. Still, when the university put together the Hertz Center, the 43,000-square-foot basketball practice facility, the master plan included space for an eventual on-campus football stadium.

The 30,000-seat stadium taking shape between Turchin Stadium and the Reily Center was designed to keep the neighbors on Audubon Boulevard as unaffected as possible, Jones said.

'We lowered one side of the stadium not for noise but so they didn't have a big 10-story building effect behind them,' Jones said. 'The lighting system we're using doesn't have as much spill so it won't intrude on the neighbors. And the PA system we're using is actually directed more towards the east side so there's not as much noise focused on the Audubon Boulevard neighbors, which are the ones we're most concerned (about).'

Halfway through the project, 16,000 tons of concrete already had been poured and 2,000 tons of reinforced steel was being used, Jones said.

Once the structure itself is complete, which is expected sometime in April, the only major outside piece left will be to lay the field. The rest will be completing the concourse areas and interior spaces of the two club sections

Outside of coach Curtis Johnson's office, the buzz of saws and pinging of hammers takes on a daily symphony.

But you won't find him complaining.

'It's funny. When you take a job and they tell you they're going to build a new stadium, yeah right. That'll be four coaches down the road,' Johnson said. 'But one thing happened everybody kept to their word.'

With the stadium on its way to completion, Johnson said he can feel the optimism it's bringing his way.

'I think this campus is excited about it as a community,' Johnson said. 'We had some people who weren't for it but I think now everybody is kind of jumping on the wagon. It's going to be incredible. I can't wait.'

That includes Jones, a 34-year Tulane employee who holds season tickets.

'The truth of the matter is I never really thought we would end up with an on-campus stadium and the fact that's it's a reality and the fact that it is going to be ready in very short time, I can't express what it really does mean, clearly to our students to have that experience in college, but to our alumni,' Jones said.

'There's an overwhelming excitement about his project. For them, it's about having the whole college experience and being able to experience it themselves. I think we all see it as a way to bring the community back to Tulane, too.'

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