While things can’t get much hotter in Sun Devil Stadium, an open venue sitting under the relentless desert sun, they can certainly get much louder – beginning tonight when the Cal Poly football team steps on the field to play Arizona State.
The Phase 1 work on the stadium’s renovation – or “re-invention” as the school calls it – includes what is being called the “Double Inferno.” And that’s how they’ll be able to turn up the heat on opponents and crank up the noise level in the 57-year-old facility – despite the fact that construction crews have removed 5,700 seats.
Seating capacity right now is 64,248, down from the 71,706 total following an expansion on the south end in 1977. But the increase in the decibel level will be the result of moving student seating into both end zones in the lower bowl, thus the creating the stereo effect (aka Double Inferno) that should drive visiting quarterbacks crazy.
Head coach Todd Graham doesn’t need a lot of help on his own field – he’s 16-4 at home during his first three years in charge of the program – but some more student support can’t hurt.
Now there should be seating enough in the student section for the full contingent, many of whom used to find themselves relegated to the east-side upper levels.
This is just the first phase of a three-phase construction program that has been estimated will cost about $256 million when it’s finally completed in 2017. When the project was first announced back in the spring of 2012, the estimated cost was pegged at $210 million, but an 84,500-square-foot student athletic building was added after the original plans had been drawn up.
Work will be done in the off-season, with the next round of construction to begin immediately following the final game on the schedule, Nov. 21 against University of Arizona.
There won’t be much noticeable change in the facility yet because most of the work has been focused on major upgrades to the facility’s infrastructure: the electrical, plumbing, and sewer systems, as well as technology upgrades. Perhaps the most visible changes will be the new elevators and reconfiguration of various sections and seating.
And that reconfiguration work is going to be a source of frustration for fans all season long. But, as ASU officials are quick to point out, there are always inconveniences that go with a project this size.
So far, this project has consumed more than 3,000 cubic yards of concrete and 500 tons of steel.
The primary adjustment for arriving fans will involve entering and exiting the stadium. There will be no changes in the north entry gates, which will provide the easiest access, but there will be some differences on the south end, including a new entrance at the corner of College Avenue and Veteran’s Way.
Season tickets-holders may have to adjust their usual routes to their seats and should arrive a little earlier than usual, but signage and stadium workers will be there to help make the adventure less confusing. What all fans need to know, however, is that the north entrance is the only way they can access the field-level walkway; only students will have access to that walkway from the south entrance.
There are a lot more details on the ASU Athletics website, providing tips and suggestions on how best to cope with the new traffic patterns for tonight’s game.
But in the meantime…take a deep breath and remember that this is short-term pain for long-term gain. When the ‘re-invented’ Sun Devil Stadium of the ’50s is unveiled a couple of years down the road, it will become the pride of Sun Devil Nation.
If that isn’t enough incentive, think about the new fan-friendly concessions… and 98 extra toilets.