Ryan Chartrand

The view was so spectacular from the roof that downtown San Luis Obispo could be seen from one side and the entire Cal Poly campus from another.

After touring Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Thursday for the first time since its completion in November 2006 – a visit as overdue as the stadium’s construction – I and two others on the 45-minute, guided sightsee were taken aback by the stadium’s breathtaking scale and beauty.

And now that the $23 million project is finally over with, it’s safe to say it was a success, no matter how belated.

Spanos Stadium is a special place. The kind of place you slow down in your car while driving past to gaze upon. And on Thursday, one thing was particularly clear – although no one is happy the stadium construction went more than two months past its deadline last fall, at least the time was put to good use.

From someone who covered both of Cal Poly’s road games at Football Bowl Subdivision schools in 2006, it was clear upon strolling into the elaborate press and luxury boxes Thursday that they actually measure up to FBS standards. In fact, Spanos Stadium’s press box looked more modern than San Jose State’s and was more spacious than San Diego State’s.

San Diego State, by the way, still plays at Qualcomm Stadium. To say that Cal Poly’s press box measures up with that of an NFL venue is a significant statement.

One flaw is that the seats earmarked for students with free admission are showing their age with sun-baked rust. But those could be painted by the time the home opener against Weber State rolls around Sept. 15.

And then there was the sight of the old, forsaken press box opposite the bling-bling, pillar-laden side. Some good times have been had there, but the auxiliary (code for ‘outside’) press box will not be missed. Imagine taking game notes on a laptop with the gusting wind blowing your papers all over with about as much elbow room as a New York subway, all the while praying it doesn’t rain because you know there’s no shelter available.

But that side of the stadium will be OK. Just give it time.

And if you have the time, do yourself a favor and check out Mustang Memorial Plaza when the pillars are glowing under the moonlight. There is no sight more beautiful on campus.

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