Soon Arizona State fans can stretch their legs a bit easier when nestled between Tempe and Haden buttes watching the Sun Devils play home football games. Sun Devil Stadium is getting an overhaul. A full rebuild.
While school officials wouldn’t dream of leaving their team's 56-year-old stadium, with the desert landscape rising outside the 71,706-seat venue, that doesn’t mean the interior of the place won’t look entirely new, sparkling with modern amenities.
ASU was already planning on ripping out 5,700 seats in the north end zone starting next month, but the newest plans go far beyond the removal of a few seats. Beginning in 2015 and lasting at least three years -- the Sun Devils will play in the stadium during the renovation -- crews will completely redo the lower bowl on the east and west sides, reconfiguring the layout for seats and benches with backs, and increased legroom.
All public areas, including concourses, restrooms, concession areas and ramps, will get “substantially more fixtures and services consistent with modern football venues across the country,” the school says.
The north end won’t look the same as it did in scenes for Jerry Maquire, as a new concert-friendly terrace will complements a new student section and student club area. Also, expect a top-flight video board, complete with a fresh sound system and a video “scrim,” or ribbon, wrapping the outside of the stadium, projecting year-round images to those passing by the venue.
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The $210 million project will also reconfigure the upper deck to increase the height between concourses, allowing for new premium seating in both air-conditioned and open-air club sections. New escalators, a new kitchen, an upgraded press box and the potential for completely revamping the football facilities round out the plan.
All told, the new-look stadium, which will also come with a new name once ASU can sell the naming rights as part of the privately funded renovations, will seat about 60,000 fans.
In spite of the upgrades, the look and feel of the current Sun Devil Stadium, opened in 1958, will ultimately remain, including Tillman Tunnel and post-touchdown fireworks.
The one facet of the preliminary plan that didn’t make the final cut was a $132 million shade canopy, which was cut because of cost and the fact that fans said they didn’t want their view of the fireworks hindered. At least Arizona State fans will be able to take in the pyrotechnics in a bit more comfort.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.