Stadium renovation plans unveiled

In April of last year, Steve Patterson was hired to oversee the renovation of Sun Devil Stadium. Today, Patterson introduced the first renderings of that renovation, a project he said that is vital to keep the ASU football program competitive with its foes both in the Pac-12 and nationwide.

"I got here about nine months ago and one of our first charges was to take a look at the work that has been done trying to renovate Sun Devil Stadium," Patterson said. "What I found really was a design and a cost structure that we didn't think would probably be sustainable. It is important that we figure out how to get a new stadium here built and we want to make sure we stay on this site. It's an iconic spot, one of the iconic spots in all of college football.

"We want to be close to the student body, and to be able to honor the heritage and the folks that have worked here for so many years, but we have to operate in a world that is very competitive out there in terms of revenue generation and the kind of fan amenities and student athlete amenities that the other schools in the Pac-12 have."

The renderings showcased today aren't the final design, but they did display several features that are more than likely to be part of a renovated Sun Devil Stadium.

- A shaded canopy over the stadium that will allow the passage of natural light and the passage of air into the stadium while also allowing the Sun Devils to play day games earlier in the year to accommodate Pac-12 Network obligations.

- This canopy will will decrease seating to an area between 55,000 and 65,000 seats. As such, larger seats will be provided with more leg room and the potential of more seats with a seat back.

- The stadium will be updated with a state-of-the-art sound system, video board and scoreboards, and ADA amenities and features.

- The site development will provide enhanced aesthetic value for the fan experience while also allowing for improved sight lines with decreased capacity and new angles and the mezzanine design allows for future build-out of club seating if necessary.

- The north end zone will be open looking back towards the Carson Center. The upper deck will be about 24 feet above the lower bowl with a mezzanine level in between where the stadium would feature premium seating, suites and clubs that bring in considerable revenue.

The cost of the stadium, or the funding mechanism hasn't been determined yet, although sources close to the project have indicated that the figure is approximately 300 million dollars. The length of the project could be upward of five years and that is assuming that the football teams will play all throughout that time period at Sun Devil Stadium. There is however another option that would move ASU out of the stadium for a season or two that would allow time to complete the project faster.

"This site that we're sitting on is a very unique site, it's holy ground for certain people, it's been a great site for football for many years, but it's a very tight site," Patterson stated. "We're caught between two buttes, one on the east and the west, and the Carson Center here on the south. Really the only way in or out of here is through the north end zone, so if we're going to go down the road of a renovation, or even if we do it in one fell swoop we'd have to come in from the north end zone.

"The thinking that we have right now is that you'd take down the east side of the building, everything from the main concourse up, then start to rebuild it from the south back to the north. Then the following season you'd come in and take down the left side of the building from the north to south, then rebuild it from south back to north. Then look at the lower bowl, look at what we'd like to have is ultimately a roof on this facility so we can have shade, and better temperature control, and be able to play games earlier in the day, as is probably going to be required given the upcoming Pac-12 requirements for television. So, that's sort of the initial thought on phasing this construction.

"The other approach is that we'd have to move out for a couple of years and go play elsewhere. Given where we are with our student body and the great support we've had out of the student body this past year and given the history of this site, that's probably not the preferred outcome. It is one that we're studying and will look at and could potentially happen in the future if we decide we can accelerate the project enough to get it done in a short enough time frame to have it make sense. It's not an easy site to build in one fell swoop and it probably would require us to be out for two years. We're looking at options to make that happen quicker."

ASU Head Football Coach Todd Graham also spoke at the press conference, and was naturally excited with the unveiling of these designs.

"We're extremely excited about it," Graham said. "What is does is show our commitment here and we want to have this program to be about winning championships and it puts us up there with the recruiting aspect. For our players and motivation for our staff, we've got a tremendous vision here to be champions and this facility is going to be one that is going to enhance recruiting big time. To have one of the best collegiate facilities and stadiums on the West Coast will only help up to be out front and be champions.

"It is exciting for our students and I think that our plans to have projection of the south end zone with the band. I am looking to grow that student section, because that is what dominates game day. For the media, for our fans, for our students, for our players, for our future players. This facility is going to be built in a way that is going to honor our past and be able to have the great tradition of our football program displayed in the stadium. It is just going to be a tremendous venue for us to be able to move forward as a program. It is something I am very excited about and our team has a chance to share this with our players yesterday. They were extremely excited about it and it speaks volumes that our players are investing in a program that expects to be champions."

Even current players, such as senior running back Cameron Marshall, who won't enjoy the benefits of a renovated stadium, were still excited about today's announcement. "If you take a look at most of the top-10 successful programs in the country, the common denominator is the fact that they all have state-of-the-art facilities," Marshall said in a statement, "including the stadium. When recruits come in and tour campuses and take a look at the facilities, they get an idea of what type of a commitment that university has to their sporting programs, specifically football. I think it would behoove the Sun Devils, and help them tremendously in their recruiting and in their ability to achieve the goals they're looking to achieve, by enhancing their stadium.

"The alumni would get excited and the recruits would get excited, and that would obviously turn into wins. It's just kind of a process that will continue to create more and more excitement and more and more wins, and that's what we need here at ASU."

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