The Stadium: Commonwealth Stadium

THE STADIUM: Commonwealth Stadium

Home of the University of Kentucky Wildcats Football

Southeastern Conference
Division I (NCAA)
First season: 1892
Won 1950 Championship under
Coach Paul (“Bear”) Bryant and
again in 1976 under Coach Fran Curci

  • Kickoff in new stadium: Sept. 5, 2015 against Louisiana-Lafayette; won 40-33
  • Originally constructed in 1973, Commonwealth Stadium now holds 61,000 visitors
  • $120 million expansion and renovation includes a tower of 27 new suites, new press box, new recruiting room, loge box seats, and club seating (which includes roughly 2,000 seats)
  • Renovation called for use of limestone, barn wood, massive graphics and black steel to be used on 68 wood and steel drink rails in VIP suites, as well as 30 casework doors that were finished with raw steel.


HTNB Corporation: The Atlas Companies: Morgan Smith Industries, LLC (MSI): Cleveland Black Oxide:
Engineering Consultant who has spoken with CBO personnel about their services over the past few years. HTNB were interested in CBO’s services, and asked the contractor to use CBO for the blackened steel, which was the look they wanted. A Louisville-based commercial building construction materials company. Won the bid for the stadium countertops, casework, decorative metals. Premier custom architectural millwork, casework and contract furniture manufacturer that specializes in woodworking and upholstery—mostly at the suite level and press level. Located in South Central Kentucky; served as subcontractor under Atlas; worked directly with CBO. Largest U.S. commercial black oxide company providing black oxide metal finishing services to a broad range of industries. CBO did the finishing on the raw steel which chemically changes the color to black. CBO provided the blackened steel finish for 68 steel drink rails that overlook the stadium, as well as steel door front panels for casework doors.

The Kickoff

In December 2014, MSI contacted CBO for an introduction to say they had a lot of work to do together. MSI visited CBO the following May for a tour to see the blackening process, and to drop off a steel drink rail sample provided by a custom fabricator to be finished by CBO.

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Offensive Coordination

Once CBO and MSI had approvals in place, the drink rails were delivered to CBO in July for finishing. Great offensive coordination among all parties included frequent communication between CBO and the contractor. According to MSI, “CBO’s expertise was extremely helpful in making the right tweaks to get the finishing and the topcoat right.” By the end of July, CBO delivered all 68 drink tables to Commonwealth Stadium. Between August and September, CBO also completed the blackened steel finishing for the steel cabinet door fronts, as well as steel corners for reclaimed wood areas (see pictures), TV display surrounds and end-of-wall steel caps.

The Audible

From the beginning, CBO worked with the fabricators to make sure all drink rails and doors were constructed for long-term performance. From previous experience, CBO General Manager, Dave Tatham, knew that the blackening solution can get trapped in porous tubular parts that have cavities, even though they have been welded. That’s why CBO instructed the fabricators to drill relief holes in the metal. “If not, we would have risked having trapped fluid which can seep through porous welds, leaving a white, cloudy, crusty film on the black finish,” explained Tatham. The holes are drilled, in areas not visible when installed, and allows trapped fluid to drain after processing.

THE Extra Point

I can’t commend CBO enough for the patience they showed throughout this fast-paced process,” said MSI project manager Samantha Oakes. “We had very quick turnaround and the overall collaboration was just great—CBO was totally focused on making the customer happy. They were able to deliver exactly what the owner wanted on a very tight deadline.”

FInal Score

Success! Both the Wildcats and the renovation were successful. The team won its home opener in its newly renovated stadium. All new products were in place before the home opener on Sept. 5, 2015.