Cal Poly athletics director Alison Cone said Friday the university expects renovations at Alex G. Spanos Stadium to be completed in time for the football team’s Nov. 18 regular-season finale against Savannah State.
Also during the media tour of the stadium Friday, Cone said roughly 11,775 seats will be available for the Savannah State game. If filled, that capacity would shatter the football program’s home attendance record (9,387), which was set in 2004 against UC Davis.
“There’s a huge buzz,” Cone said. “It’s not just around the athletic department. It’s a combination of the (football) team doing so well and the stadium.”
Cone said construction of the stadium, which began in September 2005, was delayed this year primarily because of heavy rains during last school year. The original goal was to have the stadium ready for this year’s season opener Sept. 2.
Instead, it took until Saturday to have any fans at all sit on the west side of the stadium. That’s when most of the 865 chairback seats on the west concourse were occupied by season-ticket holders.
“There is just not much you can do about it,” she said. “People did their very best and the schedule was really tight to begin with, so it had to be kind of perfect conditions to pull it in on time and perfection doesn’t often occur.”
Cone added, however, that she is not upset by the delays.
“People really did their best, so I wasn’t frustrated,” she said. “You’d love to have it open, but you deal with reality and sometimes it rains and things happen. Everybody did their best to get it in the state it’s in right now.”
Project manager Perry Judd said roughly 30 to 60 Maino Construction Co. Inc. workers each day have been making progress. The peak of the pillars on each side of the west concourse is 37 feet, Judd said.
“It’s just a matter of getting all the steps done,” Judd said. “We’ve got columns that go anywhere from 40 to 80 feet in the ground.”
The most noticeable part of the stadium with a long ways to go is on top of the chairback seats, where eight suites and separate boxes for coaches and media will eventually reside.
Both soccer teams will return to the stadium next year after playing this season at the Sports Complex.
Cone said the new stadium will make for an entirely different atmosphere upon its completion.
“The (football) team absolutely deserves it and they should be in that kind of venue,” she said. “People will have a completely different experience when they come to the games. Our students are going to have a different experience when they have most of that east side.”
Twice last season, the Cal Poly football team played at perennial Division I-AA power Montana, whose Washington-Grizzly Stadium has seated as many as 23,867 fans. The Grizzlies have an .874 winning percentage in home games since 1986.
It’s that kind of setting Cone hopes the Mustangs can develop.
“If you look at it, it feels big-time,” Cone said of the stadium. “You go to Montana, Montana has a feeling about it. Cal Poly’s going to have a feeling about it now.”