Fans appreciate renovations

Camp Randall cleans up well in 2004 debut

"Whoa. What did they do to it?"

That was the first reaction 16-year-old Oregon High School student Jennifer Koch had when she saw the renovated Camp Randall Stadium. She was selling water and Coca-Cola products in the third-floor east-side concourse prior to the game.

What did they do to it? A lot, it turns out. The Camp Randall Stadium renovation most notably included the addition of luxury boxes along the east side of the stadium, three new scoreboards and a closed-in bowl in the south end zone.

Madison resident Diane Graham, a season ticket-holder for approximately 15 years, said she noticed the increased size immediately.

The north concourse directly below
the scoreboard is still underconstruction.
(AJ Maclean/Badger Nation)
"It looks so much bigger," Graham said.

Her brother-in-law, Dale Duke, pointed out one advantage of sitting below the luxury boxes.

"It's nice and shady on this side now, see?," Duke, who lives in Soldiers Grove, Wis., pointed out.

Bjorn Hanson, a math teacher at Neenah High School who was raised in Madison, was impressed with the stadium changes. He worked for Per Mar Security Services for several years, where he took tickets and worked security at Gates 1 and 2.

"My first impression was the scoreboard was huge, much better than what it has ever been. The luxury boxes have helped," Hanson said. "They could even host Packer games here again because you've got luxury boxes and that's something, in order to stay competitive, the Badgers probably need luxury boxes."

The new scoreboards, particularly the enormous one wrapped around sections L and M in the north end zone, probably best captured the attention of both fans and players. The scoreboard blasted music and a pre-game show with head coach Barry Alvarez while people gradually entered the stadium and displayed colorful graphics, instant replays, statistics and a "Meet the Badgers" feature, which highlighted athletes around campus.

"That was one thing we did notice because before the sound was over there," Hanson said, pointing to the south end zone. "I remember sitting in those seats, way a long time ago, and my ears hurting and my head hurting. Those speakers are pretty impressive because they're actually going to be higher above and not actually going to hurt your ears."

Some players were enamored with the scoreboard and found themselves glancing at the board during the game.

"I caught myself looking at the replay screen a little bit too much while I was playing. I've got to get a little used to that. But other than that, it was pretty magical, it was incredible," junior wide receiver Jonathan Orr said. "I think Brandon Williams was checking it out a little bit too."

One highlight of the new scoreboard was its use at the end of the third quarter. The scoreboard enhanced a tradition already a favorite at Wisconsin: the student section races and the playing of House of Pain's 1992 hit "Jump Around." The scoreboard featured three-dimensional, colorful letters racing across the length of a digital Camp Randall field and a "Jump Cam" for "Jump Around."

Even some of the players found time to dance during the game. Senior defensive tackles Anttaj Hawthorne and Jason Jefferson, for instance, were caught jamming out to music on the field during a commercial break.

"I was just trying to have a good time. Football is about having fun," Jefferson said.

For fans, there is a downside to the renovations, namely the increase in ticket prices.

"Of course, it's an impressive change in the ticket price, too," Duke said. "We still were sitting on metal seats and could see the game just as well before. Other than the concourse and hopefully better restrooms, it really doesn't benefit the regular-season ticket holder a whole lot. It's benefiting those people a lot (in the luxury boxes). They got a lot out of the deal, and the fact that they've got more seating. Of course, that all depends on what kind of seasons they have. If they have winning seasons, they'll be all right. They'll fill the place up."

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