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Stadium, Seating Take Shape

Stanford Athletics

FIELD OF DREAMS: The playing surface will be real grass after all.

Football coach Walt Harris wanted the best playing surface for his team, so the athletics department turned to the experts—specialists on turf and synthetic surfaces in the Netherlands.

“We went to Europe, where there’s a lot of history with soccer and technology and playing surfaces,” says Dave Schinski, assistant athletic director for capital planning. “At the end of the day, everyone says grass is best.”

So tiff2 Bermuda grass it will be when the football stadium opens in the fall. If construction continues on schedule, the big day will be September 9 against San Jose State. Fallback position: the following Saturday, September 16, when the Cardinal takes on Navy.

As Caterpillars moved 100,000 yards of excavated earth around the reshaped footprint of the stadium in January, interim athletics director Bill Walsh was feeling confident. The $90 million renovation “is being done in short order and in brilliant fashion,” he says. “Basically, we’re thrilled about this whole project.”

Fans will be able to sit some 70 to 100 feet closer to the field now that the former track and fencing have been removed. “The design of the stadium is unique, and we’re bringing spectators very close to the action,” says Walsh, the former 49ers and Cardinal head coach. “For our players, it’s really a motivational tool.”

The old stadium, which was built in 1921 and accommodated 85,500 fans, was demolished after the final game of the 2005 season. Although the field, bleachers, track and press box have been removed, the outer berm of the stadium was preserved, along with the trees that have grown there for decades. The new stadium will seat 50,000 fans in a two-tiered, cozier bowl, and antsy children will be able to run off energy in a Family Fun Zone. Three new tunnels will provide better ingress and egress, and spectators with disabilities will have improved accessibility and seating. “The restroom facilities are outstanding,” Walsh adds.

Walsh announced ticket sales at a press conference in January. Reserved season tickets range from $180 to $275, and there will be a special alumni section between the 30- and 45-yard lines on the sunny side of the stadium. Families can purchase a package of four general-admission tickets for $160.

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