As the NFL tries to play God and almost forcibly attempt to get every team into a modern, sparking and expensive new stadium, there are several updates in the league this season. The biggest of course is out on the West Coast, where Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara replaces Candlestick in San Francisco. The Stick was a cold, windy, ugly dump and this certainly is a needed update as few will miss the old stadium. The commercialization cracks me up…check out the official “R” trademark on the Levi’s name at the stadium’s website. With a price tag over $1 billion there are some crazy technological features at The Field of Jeans. In Minneapolis, I am saddened to see the Metrodome deflated (I really loved that bubble) and the Vikings will spend two seasons at the University of Minnesota while their stadium is built. Several renovations took place that altered the seating capacity involving five teams. Jacksonville built the biggest scoreboard in the world, Cleveland finished Phase 1 of their plan, Philly teched up the Linc, Carolina made some pricey tweaks and additions, while Buffalo made a lot of changes in trying to keep the Ralph up-to-date (and yet at the same time continued ridiculous discussion on a media-fueled new stadium in the middle of a $100+ million renovation to the existing stadium!). Lastly, in Houston, Reliant is no longer the naming-rights sponsor as the Texans’ home is now called NRG Stadium.
On to the college game, where a lot has happened. Three new stadiums have been built, all in the deep south and the most notable likely is in Waco. McLane Stadium, new home to the Baylor Bears, has opened to rave reviews and this terrific facility sits right on campus along the Brazos River. In fact, “Sailgating” has become popular as many are taking boats up to the stadium. The new place is a departure from their neighborhood stadium located in the Beverley Hills section of Waco and it is undecided on what the fate of Floyd Casey Stadium will be. Also in the Lone Star State, is the new digs for the Houston Cougars as TDECU Stadium replaces old Robertson Stadium. In New Orleans, Tulane football has come back home! No longer will the Green Wave be playing in a cavernous, empty SuperDome, they instead will play in the intimate Yulman Stadium, which has been very well received thus far. Check out the Stadium Journey write-up on it as Lloyd Brown has already made it to a game with a full review.
There is a helluva a lot more than just new stadiums as renovations are plenty this year and I’ll go threw them with a one sentence blurb about each one…The Cincinnati Bearcats will spend a season in the city’s NFL stadium (Paul Brown) as Nippert Stadium is re-done…At UMass, the team finally returns to campus for games at a renovated McGuirk Stadium, but its only for 3 games (the other 3 are stupidly a couple hours away in Foxboro, where the school thinks the rest of the state actually cares about them)…Ohio Stadium is now the third-largest in the US as the Buckeys can play in front of an official 104,851 each Saturday….At Purdue, they are setting up future renovations at Ross-Ade Stadium by knocking out seating and replacing it with a temporary party deck (the scene will surely look different than Jacksonville’s)…A couple of Sun Belt teams saw expansion: Georgia Southern’s was made because of their move up to FBS, while Louisiana-Lafayette is going through a huge facilities upgrade campus-wide…Finally, the SEC, where holy crap do they have some money (not a ground-breaking statement). Four of their 14 teams had more seats added, particularly in the premium seating/club/suite department. Most notable is both LSU and Texas A&M as they will exceed the 100,000 mark with their latest renovations.
Stepping down a level to the FCS, things are much more tame. The only new stadium is at Houston Baptist University, where they also are just beginning their football program. The 5,000 seat Husky Stadium is too small to get on The List, but all the best to HBU as they begin life in the Southland. Elsewhere, a couple renovations changed the seating capacities on a pair of stadiums. Missouri State did a nice job improving their facility by bringing seats closer to the field, adding a party platform and enhancing the atmosphere with things like a bear statue. At Austin Peay, Governors Stadium actually lowered their capacity to just 7,000 as a renovation for luxury seating on the west grandstand led to the removal of many seats.