Dix Stadium renovated and ready for first public look

Jinae West

Newly renovated Dix Stadium is ready for its public unveiling Saturday after three years of construction and a cost of more than $7 million.

Michael Bruder, director of design and construction, said the stadium is essentially brand new without the extra costs of having to build one from the ground up. The majority of renovations took place in two phases, the first being completed in September of last year. Phase I focused on exterior renovations to the stadium.

Phase II included improvements to the 22,000-seat stadium include a completely re-designed ticketing area in the west entrance to provide more inside space for a crowd, which Bruder said was moved because it stood too close to the concession stand, and permanent concession and souvenir stands.

“(The entryway) was considerably lacking in architectural design and now has a real prominence that is fitting for the stadium,” Bruder said.

The third and final phase consists of minor miscellaneous projects such as improvements to the east side entrance, more concession stands and better parking for handicapped and media vehicles, but Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy is unsure when construction will resume.

Among other changes, construction workers added Kent State signage to exterior walls, installed a curved steel canopied roof overhanging the press box and built a fence line with brick pillars that surrounds the facility. A new sound system was installed, as well as changes made to the parking lot to improve traffic flow and storm drainage.

The south stands were demolished and replaced with a new plaza that features a concession stand and centralized kitchen area. A 24-foot by 70-foot high-definition scoreboard hangs above. The scoreboard is state-of-the-art; its video screen has the ability to show as one giant display or as several different windows to present statistics, animation, graphics and video.

“I haven’t seen it yet, but during the day people say it looks like a giant flat-screen TV,” Bruder said.

Dix Stadium was originally built in 1970. Bruder said it hasn’t undergone any significant renovations for the past 40 years but is now the kind of place you’d expect from a collegiate-level stadium.

Kennedy said he encourages students to come to Saturday’s home opener against Delaware State and participate in game-day activities. Tailgating begins at 11:30 a.m. in the Dix Stadium parking lot and, as part of “Flight 93: An Education on Everyday Heroes” week, the Army Fast Track Jump Team will deliver the game ball. U.S. Air Force planes will also fly over the stadium following the national anthem.

“(Dix Stadium) is a point of pride,” Kennedy said. “(Students) are going to like our football team and be really engaged and feel like they’re part of something that’s changing the culture of Kent State football.”

Kennedy summed up his opinion of the project’s years’ worth of renovations in one word: “Awesome.”

“In my opinion, it’s a dramatic improvement,” he said.

Contact buildings and grounds reporter Jinae West at [email protected].