Welcome back to the second part of our first FIU Stadium tour of 2008. Grab your hard hats, put on your fluorescent vests and let's take the southeast corner ramp to go to the east end zone side of the stadium -- home of the sweetest view of FIU Stadium.
Before we get there, here are some notes for you: I've read all your questions about the stadium and I'll get them answered for you in an upcoming blog. Answering them here would take up too much space. Also following this blog, I'll have more photos of the stadium with some more details. Let's put our hands together and thank FIU media relations guru and official stadium blog photographer Evan Koch for all the stadium photos you are about to enjoy. Let's go east....
Taking the southeast ramp and any other ramp at FIU Stadium will remind you of the Orange Bowl, without the urine and beer smell. Good exercise going up and down the ramps and great views as well of the campus and Miami.
The first thing you are going to notice when you get up on the east side of the stadium, besides the wide wraparound concourse, is the magical view. Depending on your computer's capabilities, you can enlarge any of the photos on here to get a better look.
From the east side of the stadium you can see ALL of the following: the downtown Miami skyline, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Coconut Grove, Dadeland and the Biltmore hotel in Coral Gables. In the photo on the left, if you can enlarge it you will see the downtown Miami skyline on the right side of the picture.
This photo also has a shot of the area (grass) where the future "Main Street FIU" will be built. For the next tour in April, the GPP will do a sunshine dance to keep the rain and cloudy skies away that we encountered on this tour in order to give you a clearer picture.
I suggested to Rudy of Odebrecht to install those viewing meters that they have in Niagara Falls so after FIU has a huge lead in a game, fans can walk on over to the east side, put a quarter in the meter and gaze at the beautiful city of Miami.
Let's get back on track. Back to the stadium. The other part of the east side and eventually the whole stadium that will leave an impression on you is the wide concourse (20 feet wide) that will wrap around the entire stadium. Here are some photos (left and right) of what I'm talking about. You can literally drive two cars through the concourses. Besides the width, the other good thing about the concourse is that if you get up to go to the concession stands, you won't miss a play, because of the concourse wrapping around the entire stadium. It also allows you to see the game from a variety of angles. Nice touch to the stadium.
Okay, stop staring. You people can keep looking at the east view another time. Before we move to the northeast corner of the stadium. Here is probably one of the worst seats on the first level (sarcasm here, because there really are no bad seats). Well, if you had to pick one this might be it. The photo below on the left is shot from the top seat of the southeast corner of stadium. Again, you may need to enlarge this photo with your computer to see that this is really NOT a bad seat.
While some may think there won't be much of a home field advantage with the stadium not fully enclosed in the first phase, let's see if I can show you how cozy the first phase really is in relation to the field. Look how close the east end zone seats are to the field in the picture on the right. I walked that area and counted 7 yards from the first row of seats to the field.
When we get to the end of northeast corner of the stadium where the new seats turn into the north side of the stadium, you can see where PG made the adjustments to the stands to allow for soccer to be played at the new stadium.
While construction won't begin on the north side until 2010 -- when the student services center, welcome center and north stands start going up -- in this photo below on the left you can see where the east side stands end. It's at this point where retractable seats will begin for the entire north side of the stadium.
You know how Dolphin Stadium has retractable seats on their north side where the Marlins scoreboard and the left field outfield wall are, well the same type of seats are going to be in place on FIU Stadium's north side.
These seats will retract for soccer matches. NO need to panic, they will be the same exact comfortable seats as the rest of the stadium, only they can retract.
Also, I've been told when the north side seats are done, they will be as close to field as all the other seats around the stadium.
Here are some other north side tidbits. Need more evidence that the seats are real close to the field. If you climb to the top row in the old north side bleachers that would be row 24. The further you go up on the old north side bleachers the further away from the field you are getting. Now if you climb to row 12 on the new south side seats -- you are at the same height as row 24 on the old north bleachers. What's the difference? The old north side bleachers move further back from the field, the higher you go -- sort of like high school bleachers. Whereas the south side and every other side of the new stadium just goes straight up, the higher you go. Think of it as going up a diagonal line (old seats) as opposed to a somewhat straight line (new seats). Enough geometry, I for one struggled with that subject in high school.
See if you can tell the difference between the old bleachers, where yours truly in the yellow hat is sitting, (photo left) going back from the field and the new east end zone seats (photo right) going up in more of a straight line.
As far as the area (photo below left) where the old track used to be and is now a wide gap between the opponents bench and the old north seats, well that area will remain vacant until construction on the north side begins in 2010. I think that answers CJ's question.