The new and improved Husky Stadium opens Saturday night as the University of Washington hosts Boise State to kick off the 2013 football season. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel got a sneak preview of the renovated facility and was quite impressed.
Art says the renovated stadium is, in a word, "spectacular."
"This is a marvelous blend of the tradition of Husky football along with modern convenience," he said.
The stadium's $280 million renovation is about $30 million more than what was budgeted. Private fundraising pays for about $50 million of the price tag. The rest will be financed through the university’s 30-year bonds.
Art said players, recruits, and fans have a lot to like.
CenturyLink on The Lake?
While it may not be as loud as a Seahawks or Sounders game in CenturyLink Field, the new Husky Stadium gets fans much closer to the action with the removal of the old track around the field.
"It's going to be very hard for other teams to win there," Art said. "Fans are much closer and I think it's going to be a much more intense audio experience for the visitors."
The signature look of the stadium's roof remains, but it's bigger. "They've extended the roof on the south end to cover more fans lower down," Art said. "But there are more fans lower down now because they dropped the field 41/2 feet in order to bring the seats closer. Wind-blown rain will be making an appearance," Art cautioned. "But it's just so much more comfortable."
Attractive to Recruits
Art thinks the new facility will help attract even more star high school football players to choose Washington.
"This thing is jazzed up with all the bling that young people love," he said. "All the internet hookups and visual appeal and modern technology throughout the building."
Pricier, But Better Fan Experience Overall
It will cost more to attend a game at Husky Stadium and there's more club seating.
"It's going to be much more expensive than it was," Art said. "But there's only seven home games a year. And if you can do one a year this would be a place to do it because it's always been a great spot by the lake and now they've added all the other features that modern stadiums have to be competitive with the rest of the Pac-12."
Another change is that the student section, known as the Dawg Pack, is being moved from a prime location in the middle of the north stands to the west end zone. It's a move that angered students when it was announced.
On the plus side there is more leg room and new surfacing on each seat. For the first time, the stadium has a liquor license. And the renovated facility has more elevators and 20% more bathroom stalls, with more for women than men.
"A lot of those creature comforts that will make it a real pleasant experience to be at Husky Stadium," Art said.