Pat Richter laughed off the revelation that struck him in the course of helping to select a list of people influential in building the tradition of Camp Randall Stadium over its first 100 years.
The former University of Wisconsin star athlete and athletic director thought about Badgers historians that have passed away, ones that would have surely been chosen for the task he was completing.
Speaking Wednesday as one of the selectors and one of the selected, Richter, 75, shared what came to him through the endeavor.
“I started looking in the mirror and saying, ‘you’re getting to be the oldest guy around now,’ ” Richter said.
Richter was the first name revealed as part of the UW Athletic Department’s Camp Randall 100, a project to list people who have shaped the stadium’s history as its 100th birthday approaches.
The department will feature one person each day until the Sept. 1 football opener against Utah State at Camp Randall.
Richter was part of a selection panel that included UW athletic administrators and local media, and he said one of the most challenging initial steps was narrowing the project’s focus.
In a broad view, many people not connected to the Badgers could have been considered. Richter wondered whether the group should consider Heisman Trophy winners from other schools or legendary opposing coaches that left an impression at Camp Randall.
In the end, it became a UW-focused group but not exclusively looking at the Badgers football team’s history.
“It could have been events that happened in Camp Randall, high school events that happened here,” said UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, who added input on the list. “It was a celebration of 100 years, not just of Wisconsin football but events in Camp Randall.”
And Alvarez said Richter was a natural choice to be the first member of the group revealed.
A Madison native, Richter earned three UW letters in each of three sports — football, baseball and basketball — and was a two-time football All-American as a receiver.
During his 15-season tenure as athletic director, UW started a $109.5 million renovation of Camp Randall, adding suites and department offices behind the east side of the seating bowl.
Those improvements brought the stadium, which was dedicated with a 10-7 Badgers victory over Minnesota on Nov. 3, 1917, into a new era.
UW is celebrating the upcoming 100th birthday with a website — camprandall100.com — that will feature the Camp Randall 100 and highlight the stadium’s history.
The athletic department on Wednesday also unveiled designs for 2017 football tickets that draw on historic program covers from games at Camp Randall.
As much as the project is about the stadium’s past, its future has been on the mind of athletic department officials.
A facility master plan for the department announced in January showed concepts for potential future stadium improvements.
One possibility was a transformation of the south end zone seating areas to add club seats and a terrace level that would continue into the Field House.
Alvarez said Wednesday that improvements in the south end zone, which was reconfigured during the four-year renovation that ended in 2005, probably would be the next project for the stadium. Timing and specifics, however, haven’t been detailed.
“We’ve pretty much maxed every inch of this stadium out,” Alvarez said. “We’ve made offices. We have the largest kitchen in the city in the stadium. We’ve done a training table. We’ve used every bit of it that we can and used it well.”
Nothing that would be done, Alvarez said, would take away from the integrity or tradition of the stadium.
He told of being asked for his opinion of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, which opened on campus in 2009, and how it compared with Camp Randall.
“Well, you can’t build tradition,” Alvarez said. “You can’t put a building up and say because it looks like such-and-such or we copied this from this-or-that stadium, now we have tradition.
“We have that here. And when teams take the field, they can feel it. We’re fortunate in our league, we have a number of stadiums like that. That’s why we’re so proud of this.”