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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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AWESOME!!!!!

Thanks for the update. I visit FIUsports.com often but they never seem to update their site. Thank you so much pete, I can't wait.

G-DAMN! Those seats are right on top of the field, this is going to be a signature of this stadium for perpetuity. Great, GREAT change PG. That decision alone made your hire worth it.

Thanks for the update....This is the type of info that gets me through the summer...thanks Pete!! The stadium is indeed gonna look awesome once it's finished....

Pete..do you know anything in terms of how many season tickets have been sold so far?..and compare it to last year?...club seats and suites sold?...What about the USF game tickets sold?

Great update Pete, I can't wait to see the stadium from my season ticket seats.

Pete, got any info on the basketball schedule? I'm curious to know who FIU might be playing.

The full gallery is available at:
http://fiusm.com/galleries/7
for anyone who's interested.

Thanks again for letting us join in on the tour, Pete!

Looks great, and Pete Garcia pimped it out by having his say in placing the seats so damn close to the field. However, I think there are two problems with the proximity. Pete, what's your take?

1) The soccer corner kicks
Seems that the field ends and the seating level foundation and beams quickly begin. I'm not sure if any soccer player would want to attempt to outrun and save ball going out of bounds in fear that his own balls will go out of service.

2) Proximity to the sideline
Typically if a running wide receiver or running back goes out of bounds, the team will slow him down, lose forward momentum, or jump over the gatorade table. I see none of these scenarios happening, and possible injuries if players won't have enough time to slam the brakes before slamming into the stands. In fact this happened last year, wasn't it Rolle who slammed into the stands after a failed long pass at an away Sunbelt game, was it North Texas??

If these safety issues could be put to rest, it'll mos def be an awesome experience and will put the cane experience to shame. I mean, the line of sight from any upper level (or even lower level) to the field at Dolphins stadium is like the line of sight at alligator alley.

Quijote,

I agree with you about the proximity, but we have to first see where they place the field. I am sure they're still going to be enough room for the Band, Cheerleaders, Dancers and Roary.

Dont worry about them hitting the stands after a long pass, Paul McCall will ensure that his passes are on the money!

North Texas was a home win at the OB, how can you forget that ? The sidelines are about 12 yards or so from the stands and the end zone about 7 yards....from what I can remember when I toured the site 2 months ago.

Pete,

Quick question...maybe I didnt ready correctly, but what are they intending to do with the empty patio space thats there now? Those suites wont be done by Sept. 20...or will they?

Will they have additional seating? The band? FIU Beach? Closed off?

ridgepanther: What is the real time frame for the fieldhouse part of the stadium to be completed, Can that really be completed in six months like PG says? Also, NO PRESS BOX? where are you goin to work on game days?

PG and Pres. Maidique both have said they expect the fieldhouse to be done by January. I've been told one of the suites is going to be used as the press box this season. Don't worry, you'll still be able to read FIU game stories in the Miami Herald on Sundays this fall.

The fieldhouse is well on its way up. - MC


SO........ What changed from those answers....What fieldhouse did MC refer to that was on its way up? Just more misrepresentation from FIU admin. SO tell me this... Where are the lockers for the HOME Team? Oh yeah, there will be none two FBS football team will be spliiting a 60 person space for the grand opening... Oderbrecht... MIA new terminal Millions over budget and way late. Perfoming arts center millions over budget and barely open on time. FIU stadium..... hope the field gets done in time for Kick

Wow...it is being built, so it is on its way...so, the fieldhouse won't be ready for this season.... if you want to talk about misrepresentation talk about FAU's retractable dome 65,000-seat stadium to be inaugurated two or three seasons ago...Geez...

FIUBlueandGold my god you're right lol my bad, BIG TIME. Then it was some other sunbelt away game.

It's looking amazing. Man, I'm SO going to regret being in North Carolina once football season comes around. It's hard sometimes for pictures to do justice, but it seems like these did a good job in conveying the closeness of the fans to the field. Get a packed house in that place and it'll be crazy loud on the field. That's for sure.

Quijote... who cares? Seriously. That's the players' problem, not the fans. And I'm sure they'll have some padding on the walls or something to prevent the things you mentioned. Just enjoy being close enough to hear and see every single solitary thing on the field.

And ridgepanther... fair points about Odebrecht, but those were also city and county projects. Anyone would look bad working for those greedy clowns. So far, seems like the stadium's ready to go come September 20th... and I would say Odebrecht's done quite a bit considering they started, what, about a year ago?

Can we get an update as to have many tickets have been sold for the USF game?

Nice update on stadium!!! I wonder if there is going to be someone paying for naming rights at stadium.

It would be great to know how many season tickets have been sold. As for USF game, I think tickets aren't being sold individually for that game. In order to go to that game you must buy season tickets. I called FIU about two months ago(i have co-workers that don't know much about FIU football but want to attend inauguration of our stadium), and they informed me you have to buy season tickets to get to go to that USF game. Please correct me if i'm wrong.

GO FIU!!!

Really, FIUJM? If so, that's a great idea. FIU should avoid selling individual tickets for the USF game... at least, for now.

I was at the St. Peter's game in 2002 (broadcasted it, actually, for WRGP) and it was such a bummer that the energy that night didn't really transfer over to the other home games. I don't know if now will be any different, but I do think FIU then made waaaaaay too big a deal over the "1st game" to the detriment of the rest of the home schedule. FIU shouldn't make that mistake now. It's important to make every home game "must-see", and empasizing season tickets helps in that aspect.

All those people who want to be trendy and attend the 1st game at the new stadium can (and probably will) wait until the week before or gameday to grab the tickets. At that point, go right ahead and sell. But for now... push the season tickets. It's the smart move.

Yeah, you're right Clawing Cancer. Who cares about our player's (fellow student's) safety. Its all about the fan experience!!!

lol

I think it's great idea to make people buy season tickets if they want to attend USF game. That was policy a couple of months ago but maybe it has changed. Like you said CC, push those season tickets!!!

Looking forward to our stadium rocking and being filled with blue and gold everywhere. I'd hate to see much green. It's enough everytime I go to Dolphins/Jets game, that I see that annoying booger green color.

GO FIU!!!

Hehe... that was a little mean of me. :)

But, seriously, I'm sure proper safety precautions are being taken, Quijote. And besides, it wouldn't be the first stadium in all the land to potentially have a player or two running into the stands after a play. I guess people will just have to pay attention. :)

If you want to see seats that are close to the field, you should see BB&T Field in Winston Salem (where Wake Forest plays). I covered a high school championship there this past year while it was being re-built. Some of the seats were literally within spitting distance of the end zone. And those walls didn't have padding when I went there, either. Hopefully, FIU won't have that problem. Hopefully.

WOW! The Stadium is looking cozy. I can't wait to get in the face of the visiting team.

This place is going to have a real home field advantage. Maybe even greater than the Orange Bowl (may she rest in peace).

By the way, has Odebrecht, Pete, Mitch or anyone come up with an idea on how to personalize THE CAGE?

It's got to be special for that opening night party.

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