Stadium renovations aim to please KSU football fans in ’08 season

Final phase of first major, $10 million renovation to 42-year-old Dix Stadium underway and on-time

While driving along Summit Street, Dix Stadium might look like a war zone. The bleachers closest to the street have been torn down, leaving the south end zone exposed save for a few dump trucks and excavators.

Fans need not worry, however. The $3.9 million third phase of the $10 million renovation is scheduled for completion in time for the Golden Flashes’ first home game next fall, said Michael Bruder, assistant director of architecture.

“You look around the conference and in the country, and a lot of people say, ‘Let’s build a new stadium,'” Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said. “Our situation is we have the foundation of a very good facility. It has a lot of history and tradition, so our philosophy is to renovate and upgrade and preserve the history and tradition, yet bring it to a very first-class level.”

Ever since it was built in 1966, the stadium remained the same, undergoing no major renovations.

By Summer 2006, it was time for a makeover.

During the past two summers, two of the three phases of renovation were completed.

One of the most noticeable changes to the structure was a new curved steel roof that extended over the uppermost level of press boxes and loges and will continue above a new scoreboard.

Before, the exterior of the stadium was painted concrete. Now the exterior is brick veneer in some places and synthetic stucco in others.

What Bruder calls “supergraphics,” or giant action shots of Kent State sports, dominate the exterior walls of the entrance.

The bathroom interiors were renovated. All the fixtures, lighting and finishes were replaced.

“It’s our biggest improvement yet,” said Andre Seoldo, assistant athletics director of facilities and operations. “They were really showing their age.”

Other renovations to the interior of the stadium include colorful seating signs and paved areas along the fence where fans can gather.

Plans for the third stage, which will begin this summer and be completed by fall, are still in the works.

The biggest change will be removing the stands at the south end zone.

An elevated plaza will take the place of the old bleachers, adding a “dynamic and colorful” element to the stadium with hanging banners, Bruder said. The remaining bleachers, which will be replaced with chair-backs in certain sections during next summer’s renovations, will create a horseshoe shape of the stadium surrounded by new fencing, he said.

The plaza will be anchored by a concessions stand close enough to the field so fans can enjoy the game from afar while ordering their food, Seoldo said. All of the stadium’s food will be prepared in this building.

Other additions will include a new LCD scoreboard that measures 44 feet high and 72 feet wide will hang above the concessions stand. The previous scoreboard, which used LED lights, was difficult to maintain. Seoldo said it required a crane to change the lights and could only be approached from the front side. It will feature instant replays and commercials for corporate sponsors, who are funding the scoreboard, and the university.

After the third phase of renovation, Cleveland-based firm Payto Architects will assess the stadium and decide whether to push renovations into a fourth phase.

This phase will include new seating and closer handicap and VIP parking.

“If you’re in a wheelchair, it’s very difficult,” said Thomas Euclide, executive director of Facilities Planning and Operations, of the current parking setup. “You have to get dropped off and pushed up a hill.”

The lot, if approved, won’t be designed until late Summer 2008, he said.

Kennedy said he is pleased with the progress from the first two phases. He said he enjoys seeing all of the athletic renovations — the field hockey field, softball field, Field House and stadium — coming together.

“It’s just a first-class facility,” Kennedy said of the stadium, “and it’s very satisfying to me to see that progress.”

Contact news correspondent Caitlin Saniga at [email protected].

Contact buildings and grounds reporter Ryan Sheridan at [email protected].