Rebuilt Horseshoe being readied for season opener
As the three-year renovation of the Horseshoe enters the home stretch, officials are pledging that the dust, heavy equipment and construction workers will make a final departure in time for the Sept. 8 home football opener.
Left behind in their wake will be the"rebirth" of Ohio Stadium.
"It's a brand new building -- a brand new, renovated building," said Mike Dolan, assistant athletic director, who has supervised the construction project.
Physical changes have not only increased durability, seating capacity and improved viewing of the 80-year-old stadium, but have brought it up to meet today's safety codes and federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Add to that all-new electric, plumbing, sewer and water lines plus a state-of-the-art phone system, and you have a stadium built to withstand another 80 years, Dolan said.
Athletic Director Andy Geiger said overseeing the intensive renovation has been both thrilling and nerve-racking. But visitors touring the stadium have given the new look rave reviews.
"People are awestruck. They're just thrilled with it," Geiger said."First of all, they're impressed by the sheer size of it. Add to that the fact that it is still recognizable as the Horseshoe, yet it has been upgraded to include all the modern conveniences."
Last season, fans were treated to such improvements as a permanent south stands surrounding a new state-of-the-art scoreboard, an outer shell and extended C-deck on the east side, a lowered playing field, and new restroom facilities and concessions never before offered in C-deck. But this year has its own share of pleasant surprises for fans entering the stadium.
"The biggest item that will impress the fans is the new press box going up on the west side of the stadium," Dolan said."As you can see, it is very dominating yet very beautiful."
The glass-enclosed press box will tower 183 feet above the playing field (measured from the playing field to the roof), compared with a distance of 161 feet from the playing field to the top of the scoreboard. Media covering games can plug into the latest technology, Dolan said, with convenient fiber-optic equipment installed for this season.
The press box is perched at the top of C-deck, on top of a row of luxury suites not available last year; there are 81 total suites located below the press box and at the top of A-deck. Nestled underneath the overhang of the press box and luxury suites is a section of C-deck where 1,200 to 1,400 fans can sit sheltered from the weather. Dolan said this section will actually be referred to as D-deck.
Also on the west side of the stadium, 2,600 bright red club seats, located between the 35-yard lines, have been installed for this season.
Dolan said an additional six elevators have been installed since last season, as well as 30 percent more restrooms and concessions. Attention to meeting federal ADA requirements -- which meant wider aisles, handrails, additional restrooms for people with disabilities, and wheelchair seating around the A-deck perimeter for last season -- have resulted in an additional row of wheelchair seating along the lower railing in D-deck, Dolan said.
Good news to all is the paving and reopening of parking lots surrounding the stadium. Approximately 500 spaces consumed by construction for the past two years were open as of Aug. 1. Softening the look of asphalt and concrete are newly planted maple trees, flowering bushes, street lights and brick walkways surrounding the stadium and connecting the numerous entrance gates. Through the Ohio Stadium Brick Campaign, Buckeye supporters can give to the Department of Athletics and have their name engraved on a paver located in the walkway. For details, call (866) 4ABRICK (422-7425) or visit www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.
The walkways meander along the perimeter of the stadium and connect to a new Buckeye All-America Grove, just south of the stadium and east of Morrill Tower. By opening game day, the area will be home to a grove of buckeye trees and plaques commemorating individual football players who earned All-America honors while playing for Ohio State.
While the stadium has received most of the attention, Geiger said he is equally proud of the new soccer and track stadium located near the Jerome Schottenstein Center. The new Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium -- home to OSU men's and women's soccer, lacrosse, and track and field teams -- will be ready to host soccer this fall, but will be officially dedicated in spring 2002 in conjunction with the annual Jesse Owens Track Classic.
Geiger said the construction is part of a new look for the University's athletics.
"I think it is part of a restructuring of athletics at Ohio State, from a physical and human point of view," Geiger said.
"We're changing the physical plant, but just as important, we're building a marvelous coaching staff."
Game day parking rates increase
After more than 15 years, day-of-game parking rates are increasing this football season. Parking on campus for those without University permits will rise from $5 to $10.
"We surveyed other area event fees, and an increase is not out of line," said Sarah Blouch, director of Transportation and Parking Services.
Blouch anticipates an additional $250,000 in gross revenue from this increase, which will be used to help pay for new parking garages on campus. Currently, two garages are in design -- one in front of Rhodes Hall and the other to be located on the Cunz Hall parking lot -- with construction set to begin in mid-2002 and conclude in 2003.
As in past seasons, any Ohio State parking permit is good on game day at any day-of-game lot, with the exception of the Northwest and Tuttle parking garages and reserve lots, Blouch said. A reserve season parking pass, which allows access to those areas, can be purchased for $150.