I’m heading back to the epicenter of Wildcat Nation today, but yesterday I had a nice vacation diversion and while I was at it – conference alignment distraction. The distraction? Reser Stadium – home of the Oregon State Beavers. As a kid I was allured by the magic of baseball stadiums. My RI roots led me to look to Fenway Park as sports mecca and the Field of Dreams factor to this day has me rubberneck when I pass any minor league stadium. However, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with college football stadiums.
Yesterday was one of those lucky days when you get to the stadium and the gates are wide open. I was able to walk right on to the field with family members and I was just shocked that the same raucous home I’ve seen on TV for the ’06 USC upset and several Civil Wars was smaller capacity (45,000+) than Ryan Field (47,130). It seemed so much larger than Ryan Field I literally kept checking my Iphone for various sources to confirm. After a quick mental diversion of wondering what other BCS conference schools not named Duke, BC or Wake Forest have smaller stadiums, I was standing at midfield looking around thinking “why does it feel so much bigger”.
As I sat there it hit me like a ton of bricks. Seatbacks baby. OK, that and the fact the stadium seems to be one of the more vertical you’ll ever see. Oh yeah, and the Pac-10 trademark dramatic acoustic and rain protection overhang (like Oregon and Washington). I did marvel at the tight end zone seating and immediately pictured how, as many of you suggested, the Ryan Field south end zone could be pulled waaaay in to help with sightlines and acoustics. Right above this could be the mega jumbotron like Reser has above its tight end zone seating. The stadium was so intimate you could feel the fans breathing on you as you envisioned how loud it must get.
The word on the street is that the south end zone of the renovated Ryan Field will inclue a state of the art football-only facilities building that will hold offices, a weight room and a handy-dandy good looking visual for TV purposes. I envision something similar to Indiana’s Memorial Stadium, however I’d be thrilled to even get something like this:
Obviously I pulled an A-Train or perhaps John Clay and fumbled big time by not having a Northwestern “N” flag handy to add to the stadium total that is now nearly 1/6th of all DI stadiums (what a joke by me!). I really began fantasizing about the imminent capital campaign and how Northwestern has so much upside for stadium enhancements. I started getting giddy thinking about a packed purple stadium that is truly the crowned jewel of intimate stadiums. When you sit in another stadium and soak it in objectively it really underscores the need for improvements on your own home turf. The seat backs in orange and black just made a huuuge difference in terms of intimate setting (the endzones were bleachers). I was bummed it wasn’t a gameday as the juices started flowing. My thoughts wandered to how we can EXPAND our stadium to accommodate the likes of Nebraska coming to town and also ADAPT for the likes of Rice playing in Evanston.
Man, I’d love to be part of the Jim Phillips stadium renovation team and be able to go on visits like this across the country to sample the best practices and cool features of the nation’s best stadiums. For what it is worth, the surrounding parking lot made the east and west lots seem like Texas. The lone layout blunder I saw was a lack of tailgating area in close proximity to the stadium. Reser was on the outskirts of the campus and right next to the 10,000-seat Gill Arena (hoops), but I was envious of the walking distance to the quad and the essential parts of campus.
Perhaps I should do a special feature for LTP on every stadium we visit to feed my insatiable and inexplicable want to become an expert on football stadiums. It really made me as giddy as a kid walking up a ramp to Fenway Park.
Hail to Hail
You’ve likely been ingesting conference alignment and Big Ten division splits like brats at a 4th of July party. However, I highly recommend you check out J-Hodges – an LTP regular – whose HailtoPurple post feasting on Jim Delany’s requirements of competitive balance, rivalries and geography – is second to none.
The Big Ten Bloggers who have been more dormant than NU in the hoops postseason have offered entrance to the first Nebraska blog – Corn Nation. Be sure to check it out as you know the hype surrounding how dedicated and football smart Huskers fans are will make you think your football IQ will skyrocket by simply bookmarking this blog.