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West Side Story (New Stadium Tour)

If you visit FIUsports.com often, then you know by their countdown there are just 66 more days for the Golden Panthers and you good people, the fans, to unwrap your new stadium present.

Here's sort of like a Sears catalog version of what you're getting for your Sept. 20, Football Christmas day. First, let's go West, young men and women. (Note: I've maximized the size of these photos on the blog, but you could probably enlarge them even more on your PC to get a clearer view). Thanks to FIU students and GPP interns-for-a-day, Veronica Hernandez and Rick Martinez for taking these shots during the tour. And who says the GPP doesn't care about giving back to FIU photo journalism?

On to the tour:

The west side stands are just about done, with the exception of the concourse, which was being built when I left the stadium last Thursday. Here are some photos (left and right) of the open area (future extra Patio2_2 suites/patio over looking the stadium) in the middle of the west seats. The photo on the left shows the exits of the 6 suites/conference rooms to the patio area overlooking the west end zone.

The photo on the right shows an overhead view of that patio area.Patio 

These 6 extra suites/conference rooms are expected to be done when the first two floors of the fieldhouse are completed in July 2009.

So in total the stadium will have 25 club suites in Phase 1, except that 5 of those are expected to be used by the following: 2 suites for assistant coaches from each team. 1 for radio, 1 for media and 1 for the stats crew.

Let's stay on the west side and go down to the fieldhouse area. This photo on the left is what it currently looks like. Odebrecht Construction is currently working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 6 days a week, building the FH and will continue throughout the season, Fh_2 except on the 5 Saturdays when FIU plays home games.

The 1st and 2nd floors of the fieldhouse are scheduled to be done by July 2009. Originally, it was going to be just the 1st floor by January 2009, but the plans changed to get the entire FH done by next summer. The 3rd and 4th floors might be added with Phase 2, depending if pro soccer becomes a tenant of FIU Stadium.

What you see above left here is where the 12,000 square foot weight training center/gym for all FIU athletes will be located. Next to the electrical room (white square building) on the top left of the photo is where the entrance to fieldhouse would be, which also would be where the ticket office and memorabilia store are located. Let's go underneath the west stands for more.

Before we get into the details of the FH, here on the right is a shot below the 6 west end zone suites Patioextrasuites and patio area. Where you see the brownish-red horizontal beams is where the actual suites/conference rooms are going to be. Just left of that area is the entrance to the patio over looking the west end zone. If you have good depth perception, you could tell the patio area is a pretty good size.

Back down to ground level now, and here, below left, is Odebrecht King and Stadium Tour guide, Rudy Armenta pointing to the area Gym_4 where the Golden Panthers locker room and FIU coaches locker room will be located.

If you remember from our last tour earlier this year, also on the 1st floor of the fieldhouse are plans for an injury/rehab center, FIU memorabilia store and ticket office. The 6 extra suites will also double as conference rooms for position meetings or offense/defense meetings. Plus, MC's office and his assistants offices will also be on the 2nd floor. The suites/meeting rooms may also be used as classrooms for some FIU classes.

FIU is still talking about bringing professional soccer to the new stadium and here is a photo to show you where a corner kick would be during a soccer match. See where the yellow construction Tonka toy is on the Cornerkick photo on the left, well, just to left of that, right below the stands (in this case, the northwest corner stands) is where a futbolista would line up for a corner kick. These stands all the way around the stadium are right on top of the action on the field.

Need further proof, here's another photo on the right, of the south stands in relation to the FIU sideline. That line of black stuff on the field is where the FIU bench area would be. If you don't like to hear what's being said on a football field and you're sitting here, thenClosesideline  either you get earmuffs or you find another seat, because the vocabulary does get colorful on a football field.

The frame above the west end zone seats is for the second Westscore scoreboard the stadium will have. That scoreboard is the old one that used to sit atop the east end zone in the old FIU Stadium. The frame for the state-of-the-art jumbotron video scoreboard above the east end zone seats has not been installed yet.

Before we start preparing the second part of our latest new stadium tour, here on the left is a view from atop the newly constructed southwest corner seats. If you enlarge this photo -- like you should Swcorner with all the photos on here to get the best view -- then you can see that even from atop the southwest corner seats, the view of the field is a good one. Not a bad seat in the house.

Will try to have the second part of the stadium tour on here in the next few days before I hop a plane to New Orleans for the Sun Belt Football Media Event, where MC and Scott Bryant are expected to join the other 8 Sun Belt head coaches and 8 other SBC top players. The SBC Media Days are next Monday and Tuesday, July 21-22 from the Big Easy. Will have a French Quarter/Bourbon Street blog from there.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Haven't forgotten about the last part of the MC Q & A, that will be on here soon.

FIUBlueandGold: When does the team start official practice? I noticed that the upper concourse had some benchseating near the aisles behind railings....can you find out if they will allow standing room only (SRO) on the upper-concourse as general admission. If the guys pull off an upset or at least a strong showing against KU and Iowa - I think at 25K might show on gameday?

GPP: Monday, August 4 is FIU's first fall practice. The bench seating near the aisles is for handicap. Regardless, of how FIU does against KU and Iowa, the stadium will be packed for the stadium inaugural game against USF. I heard from a Tampa writer that the Bulls AD wanted 5,000 tickets, but FIU is not going to give USF 5,000 tickets for the opener. Don't want what happened at Lockhart Stadium last year when USF visited FAU. The crowd was predominantly green and gold over the Owls' red and blue.

alt7787: What's wrong with Dan Uggla? He's playing tonight like he doesn't belong at the All-Star Game. Ug He's made a bunch of errors tonight and he can't get a hit. Where's the Uggla that hit the walk off grand slam or the one that hit 23 homers?

GPP: I think Uggla had some jitters playing at Yankee Stadium for the first time. His dad is from New York and grew up a Yankees' fan. Uggla said a few weeks ago about playing in Yankee Stadium, that the first time he played at Shea Stadium (Mets' home) he had to pull his cap down low, because if he looked up at the stadium he would get dizzy. Uggla eventually got over the Shea fear. Good thing, the only way he plays there again is if the Marlins and Yankees meet in this year's World Series.

Before the FIU Nation Question, FIU has asked the GPP if they could post the Stadium Brick Campaign on here and the GPP is happy to oblige. The bricks will be located at the entrance of the Panther Club on the lower level of the stadium. If you want to purchase a brick here's the link: Not Just Another Brick In The Wall

While we're on the subject of the stadium....

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