Welcome to Frog Alley. But beyond Frog Alley comes a stadium that serves one of the nation’s top football teams with history and modern amenities.
Located on the campus of TCU, the WTA-era project of Amon G. Carter Stadium dug itself into the Forth Worth hillside in 1930 and hasn’t looked back since. But a 2012 upgrade, led by HKS Architects and principal Bryan Trubey took this below-ground lower bowl and gave it a modern feel with a bevy of high-end amenities, a student section perched near the field, view platforms, a close connection to Frog Alley and an even tighter connection to Fort Worth stadium-design history.
“We took the Southwest art deco style that was prevalent in Texas (during the 1930s), and the new construction emulates that in a very traditional sense,” Trubey tells SI.com. “We made it a much richer and larger expression.”
The recent renovation kept the capacity right around 45,000 but included roughly 30 suites and 2,200 club seats. With platforms in the north end zone to create “special places for social and watching the game,” Trubey says they spent plenty of time thinking about the fan experience with the upgrade.
Frog Alley, right outside the stadium on the east side, spills toward the venue and starts the fan experience. It continues with a walk down into the original bowl, built into the hillside.
The lower bowl opened in 1930 and the final upper deck addition came in the 1950s. Since then, though, Amon G. Carter Stadium hadn’t had much work. In the recent renovation, designs kept that original bowl embedded in the hillside and redid everything above ground. A new south end zone building started things off with club seats and suites, the first premium seating in the building.
Trubey says the westside suites are some the closest to the actual field of play in the world of football stadiums (Trubey also designed the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium). Then more suites, just 17 rows back from the field, add another mix. But along with all this premium seating, a must in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, keeping the students close to the field was key, too. “The way it is configured, it is one of the better seating environments for students in terms of being close to the field,” Trubey says.
Crews were able to refurbish the original cast-in-place concrete lower bowl, open concourses with views unimpeded into the facility all the way around and do it all in that original Southwest art deco style that emerged in Forth Worth as the oil and gas business grew in the 1930s. Without losing sight of the Horned Frogs’ colors, the graphics and signage throughout have that nostalgic art deco flair, pointing you through Frog Alley into the history and architecture that is Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.