Man, coverage has come a long way in the five years we’ve been doing this. Hats off to both PurpleWildcats.com’s Chris Emma and WildcatReport.com’s Louie Vaccher who both have been covering the ‘Cats like a blanket this preseason. As most of you know, my day job precludes me from getting to do much in person coverage during the preseason and therefore I rely on Chris, Louie and others like Teddy Greenstein, and the ESPN.com coverage team to paint a clear picture of what is going on with the ‘Cats.
Here are some highlights of yesterday’s coverage from a cool, overcast day at UW-Parkside:
- Venric Mark is quickly emerging as the ‘Cats primary RB in camp and has been very impressive. Mike Trumpy is looking solid and gaining confidence after taking hits and testing that knee in live hitting. Trumpy turned heads with a great TD run in the night session. Chris Emma notes he appears to have the “wheels” of someone who you’d never know was injured a year ago.
- Jack Konopka is emerging as a real option to start on the OL after converting from Superback this off-season. He’s currently battling for the RT slot.
- Louie Vaccher was stunned by the size of freshman DB Traveon Henry and can’t remember a guy with that kind of size and presence in our secondary.
- Chris Emma was impressed by freshman DE Dean Lowry who he says might get some PT this year. Emma also noted that track star Joseph Jones, who was recruited as a DB is playing LB.
- Louie Vaccher posted a feature on RS freshman CB Nick VanHoose, who appears to have the lead on locking down one starting CB position. VanHoose was THIS close to having his redshirt burned by Fitz late last year, but now we may be in line for some stability at one corner for several years.
- Davion Fleming started alongside Ibraheim Campbell at safety.
- Pierre Youngblood-Ary hauled in the play of the day with a catch over the back of the helmet of defender Daniel Jones.
- Kyle Prater was held out of practice and reportedly is dinged up while RB Malin Jones was also not in action.
It’s that time of year again. Dave Revsine, Gerry Dinardo and Howard Griffith are all on site in Kenosha this morning to tape the Northwestern fall camp show. The BTN crew has been busing all over the midwest on their annual tour. It’s must-see stuff as they go very in-depth and surprisingly offer candid insights in to the strengths and weaknesses of each unit. The show will air TOMORROW night at 10 pm et/9 pm ct on BTN.
On to our regularly scheduled post. I had the fortune of traveling to Bloomington, Indiana recently for a business meeting and of course made sure to check out Memorial Stadium while I was there. I’ve been down this road a couple of times before, but I thought my firsthand experience of being inside the renovated Hoosier stadium was as relevant as ever as ‘Cats fans await the public unveiling of the facilities plan.
Let’s start with some assumptions. There have been various reports of the expected dollar amount to be raised for NU Athletics. Most reports, including the most recent by Teddy Greenstein, put the total at $200MM- $300MM. While this will be, by far, the largest capital investment in to NU Athletics in school history, I was a little surprised at how low the number was. Well, let me restate that. Once I heard, like you did, that a key part of the plan was a “Monday through Friday” practice facility complex AND that the invesment would touch all 19 sports, I quickly deduced that there would be no new football stadium. Let’s consider a few football stadium measuring sticks:
- Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, completed for the 2010 season, cost $289MM to build. To me, a very relevant number for a brand new stadium.
- Michigan, by contrast, spent $226MM to put in 83 luxury boxes and 3,200 club seats, a number that still blows me away.
- Buoyed by the new Pac12 Network deal several left coast schools are priming the construction market. Washington is doing a $250MM overhaul to the existing stadium, Arizona is putting $72MM in to stadium improvements and Cal is laying out $470MM for a complete stadium renovation and practice facilities.
Let’s assume that a good chunk of the $200MM-$300MM (let’s call it $300MM) will go towards the practice facility solution. That doesn’t leave enough to do a complete new basketball arena AND significant improvements, does it? Well, now you see where my mind goes – realistic relevance. Enter Indiana.
The Hoosiers renovated one major portion of Memorial Stadium as part of a $55MM facilities upgrade. The football-specific portion of the overhaul was likely in the $40MM-$45MM range from what I’ve been able to tell. It was a three year project, started in 2006, that added athletic offices, a spectacular weight room, club seats and a closed-in portion of the stadium that is just fantastic in person. Simply put, it converted what looked like a glorified high school stadium in to a venue that feels much bigger time.
Like most things, the devil is in the details. When you approach Memorial Stadium from the outside, particularly as you walk towards the north endzone, you start to appreciate the work. The exterior feels right in line with the architecture throughout the campus. Gray concrete, beautiful arches and a timelessness and class type of feel come to mind. When you walk inside it is brand spanking new. The offices are sparkling. There is an events room and Hall of Fame-like experience on the fourth floor with wide open ceilings. You look out on to the field and the new $3MM scoreboard stares at you like an oversized flatscreen. Granted, I’d love to see the south endzone closed, as the scoreboard area looks like an ACC stadium with trees and traffic passing by, but I’m sure that would be the next step should they ever fill the place consistently. The football offices and conference rooms are very consistent – colored with mostly Hoosier crimson. And this is just on the inside.
When you are out in the seats your eyes are drawn to this north endzone. I sat there imagining the Ryan Field south endzone to be just like this. Pull the seating in to be right on top of the field and use the space to build this awesome enclosure. I think one of the most dynamic elements of it all is the weight room. The design is actually very similar to Illinois’ Memorial Stadium. From the outside, the glass is covered with a seemingly opaque graphic of Indiana Hoosiers. However, you walk through the door and a weight room that must be four times the size of Northwestern’s awaits. As you work out there, you can see the field at ground level. It would be fun to have an event here during a game as it is such a unique view. The entire time I walked through this stadium I couldn’t believe it only cost $40MM-$50MM.
The concourses are wide and the entrances have been pulled out away from where they used to be. The same gray, stone arch-theme prevails as a very strong entrance for fans. Imagine if wrought iron fence was all the way out where the start of the East lot is now. Imagine every 15 yards or so there was a stone arch entrance easily signaling “get in line here”. The amount of concourse space that would be opened up could go a long way to addressing the laughable congestion at bathrooms and concession stands.
One neat element I had never noticed before was the academic center, It is tucked inside the stadium, between two concession stands at about the 50-yard line. It’s glass exterior makes it almost look like a fishbowl so you can look in and be impressed by the offering, almost as if to say “we take academics seriously”. Considering the proximity to the weight room, the facilities and everything else, it’s a pretty ingenious use of what otherwise would be “dead space”.
It will be interesting to see what they do for Ryan Field. You can count on a new state-of-the-art scoreboard. You can bet the south endzone will be addressed. The northeast corner, where the stands are angled the wrong way is another no-brainer opportunity. But what about the north endzone? What about the adjacent Welsh-Ryan? Will we go Boston College like and connect the two facilities, making the in-between area, offices, weight rooms and the like? Will football offices and weight rooms be part of a south endzone design?
Time will tell, but if we’re talking about having tens of millions to address the football stadium then Indiana is a model worth looking at.
Ebert NFL Update
Jeremy Ebert is taking reps as a punt returner and learning that even for a first team All Big Ten WR, that the journey to making an NFL roster, check that, a world class team like the Patriots, is no gimme. Take a look here at the ESPNBoston feature on Jeremy.
Our LTP gal pal Gia D. has been very busy with Northwestern trips this fall. Now, the VP of the NU Club of Chicago is announcing the very first roadtrip for the club to the Big House!
Join the Northwestern Alumni Club of Chicago for our first ever away game bus trip to the Northwestern vs. Michigan game at the Big House!
This event goes on sale to all alumni TODAY and tickets must be purchased no later than August 31, 2012!
On November 10th, board a charter bus to Ann Arbor for a day trip to see the Wildcats play at one of the most iconic stadiums in all of college football. We will have seats in the Northwestern alumni section at this game, which is a sure sell-out, and you can leave the driving to us as you enjoy a comfortable ride, snacks, drinks, and the chance to relax, sleep, and socialize with other fans!
The ticket price is $130 and includes your game ticket, transportation, a Northwestern hat, snacks and drinks on the bus, and a possible informal tailgate at Michigan, depending on when game time is and how early we arrive.
The bus will depart from Union Station no later than 5 hours before game time, which will be announced closer to then.
LTP Ticket Challenge
You knew coming off of that announcement I just had to remind you to get those NEW season tickets so we can put them on the board! We’re looking for someone to officially push us past the 50% mark of 100 on our quest to 200 NEW season tickets. Nebraska is sold out and Iowa is getting closer to a sellout, so the only way to ensure you can see these games as well as great other options including a night game against rising SEC player Vandy and a late afternoon September tilt with BC is to hop on board! Call 1-888-Go-Purple and order today! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story and we’ll give you a shout-out!
Let’s keep the LTP Bar Venue locales pouring in (geesh, that’s really bad). I’ve heard from Portland, several mid-Atlantic states, Chicago and San Francisco, but we want to make sure we have the most accurate and up-to-date places for fans spread across the country to be able to congregate and watch with fellow ‘Cats fans! With the season opener only two weeks away from Saturday and two evening games on tap in September, let’s nail this down! Email us at email@example.com .