J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome
Flagstaff NAU Skydome.jpg
NAU campus in 2006
Location McConnell Drive
Flagstaff, Arizona[1]
Opened September 17, 1977
Renovated 2010–2011 [2]
Owner Northern Arizona University
Operator Northern Arizona University
Surface FieldTurf (2002–present)
AstroTurf (1977–2001)
Construction cost $8,000,000
($NaN in 2020 dollars[3])
Architect Rossman and Partners[4]
Structural engineer John K. Parsons[4]
Former names NAU Skydome (1977–79)
Tenants NAU Lumberjacks (NCAA)
Capacity 11,230 - total
10,000 - permanent seats
1,230 seats in ten sections of portable bleachers

The J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome is an indoor multi-purpose stadium in the western United States, located on the campus of Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, Arizona. Opened in September 1977, it is the home of the NAU Lumberjacks football and basketball teams of the Big Sky Conference. The seating capacity is 16,230, with 15,000 permanent seats and 1,230 seats in portable bleachers. The Walkup Skydome has hosted five Big Sky men's basketball tournaments: 1987, 1997, 1998, 2005, and 2006.

For its first six years, the Walkup Skydome was the world's largest clear-span timber dome, until the completion of the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington, in 1983.[5] The architect was Wendell Rossman of Phoenix, also responsible for many other buildings on the surrounding NAU campus. The wood used in construction of Walkup Skydome was Southern Yellow Pine. At its launching in 1977, it was the third indoor football stadium in the Big Sky Conference: Holt Arena at Idaho State in Pocatello opened in 1970 (as the "Minidome") and the Kibbie Dome at Idaho in Moscow was enclosed in 1975.

The Skydome is named after J. Lawrence Walkup (1914–2002), the president of NAU from 1957 to 1979, a period of tremendous growth for the university.[6][7][8] During an era of tight budgets in the mid-1970s, he creatively coordinated financing for the venue. More than half of the $8 million project came from voluntary student fee increases, supplemented with $1.5 million in legislative funding and a campus fund of $2 million from two decades of vending machine revenue.[9] The athletic director at NAU at the time was Hank Anderson, who served from 1974 through 1983. The two-year-old Skydome was named for Walkup after his retirement in 1979.[10]

The playing surface is at an elevation of 6,880 feet (2,097 m) above sea level,[11] second only to Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium, by 335 feet (102 m). Originally AstroTurf, the playing surface for football was changed to infilled FieldTurf in 2002.

Besides sporting events, the arena is also used for commencement ceremonies, concerts, and other events such as conventions and trade shows. The arena floor features 97 square feet (0 m2) of space.

The Walkup Skydome is also used by the NFL's Arizona Cardinals during their summer training camp, held at NAU.[12] The Cardinals are able to move inside to conduct practice when the weather is unsuitable outdoors.[13]

Renovation[edit | edit source]

The building underwent a major renovation from December 2010 to September 2011 at a cost of $26 million. The scope of the project included bringing the fire, life, and safety up to code while remodeling the bathrooms, concourse, offices, suites, locker rooms, and press box. The athletic training and equipment on the main floor were also remodeled and three elevators were added to the complex. Fans now enter the building to a panoramic view of the field on the East and west concourses. Capacity was reduced to 10,000 but now feature 21 inch (55 cm) wide chair back seating.[2]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Van Sickel, Charlie. "NAU brought the Big Sky indoors...cheaply", January 10, 1982, p. C3. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Walkup Skydome Set to Reopen This Week with Fort Lewis Game. Northern Arizona Athletics (September 5, 2011). Retrieved on September 10, 2012.
  3. Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Domes - timeline. Columbia University. Retrieved on August 6, 2010.
  5. Skydome Information. Northern Arizona University. Retrieved on April 26, 2006.
  6. "J. Lawrence Walkup", NAU Library. Retrieved on January 21, 2014. 
  7. "Former NAU president Walkup is dead at age 88", August 9, 2002, p. 3A. 
  8. J. Lawrence Walkup (1914-2002). Arizona Historical Society. Retrieved on January 21, 2014.
  9. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named naubrthin
  10. "Dome may get new name", October 9, 1979, p. 3. 
  11. Topographic map from USGS The National Map
  12. "Cards begins football camp with changes", July 14, 1997, p. 6. 
  13. "Cardinals reach accord on training at NAU", February 8, 1990, p. 8. 

External links[edit | edit source]


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