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Enclosed (Not Domed) Stadium in 2012, T.Y., Bjelica POWs, Grace Under Fire

Time for FIU to get its house in order. Texas A&M's waiting to join the SEC harem, the Pac 12's talking with other schools and holes will be created that conferences will want to fill.

FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said today after this football season, FIU Stadium's north side bleachers will be demolished and replaced by seating that fully encloses the stadium. The project will begin No. 13, the day after FIU's final regular season game, against FAU, and will be finished in time for the 2012 season. There will be north side suites and second Stadium Club.

The full expansion to 45,000 seats with a second deck is a few years down the road.

"This is needed right now," Garcia said. "We need to finish out our stadium."

"A huge step. The parallels of the program, the facilities, our university are remarkable," head football coach Mario Cristobal said. "Everything is continually going forward at 100 mph. It's a very strong statement by our administration, one that we're very thankful and privileged to have, that football and this university, building that camaraderie, that tradition are very very important to this university community. As a football coach, I'm as fired up as you can imagine. That was the final piece of the stadium for now."

Garcia said of making the stands ring the field completely, "This will be an important recruiting tool for Coach Cristobal," but what he didn't mention was the bigger picture recruiting tool -- making FIU a more attractive school to recruit to a conference as the puzzle squares shift with conference realignment. The actual number of seats won't change much, but the aesthetic and feel will. It'll look like a college stadium instead of a Texas-sized high school stadium.

Though rain ruined the season opener crowd, FIU's got over 11,000 season ticket holders now and the Central Florida game is nearly sold out. That game's expected to be FIU's largest home crowd in the program's 10-season history.

T.Y. Hilton won the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week award after rolling up a national best 283 yards of all-purpose yards against North Texas. Middle Tennessee State's Eric Russell got the Defensive Player of the Week nod after 13 tackles, 11 solo, a sack and an intercetion that he returned 34 yards in MTSU's choke againt (ugh) Purdue. Western Kentucky punter Hendrix Brakefield was the Special Teams Player of the Week. He averaged 44.6 yards per punt on eight punts against Kentucky and had two downed inside Kentucky's 10. FIU's nominees were Hilton, linebacker Winston Fraser (11 tackles) and kicker Jack Griffin. I voted for Hilton, Russell and Brakefield, although I almost went for Fraser over Russell. 

The situation with free safety Chuck Grace lingers, as of right now. Some resolution might come in the next two days. Expect Terrance Taylor, who had four tackles Thursday, to play for Grace when Grace's fourth quarter head shot against North Texas costs him game time against Louisville this Friday. Grace will get some punishment from the Sun Belt. They can't give him a pass, not with the pressure on the authorities at all levels of football to address hits to the head and the ever increasing knowlege of the damage those hits can do.

FIU came through Thursday healthy. Louisville quarterback Will Stein's left ankle had him in a walking boot, but he should play Friday. Center Mario Benavides and defensive end B.J. Butler are out. Defensive tackle Brandon Dunn didn't dress in Louisville's 21-9 win against Murray State and is questionable for Friday.

Up in that part of the country, they think of Florida International as one of those schools you see advertising on Judge Judy or Judge Joe Brown. So Eric Crawford of The Courier-Journal, Louisville's newspaper of record since the days when jockeys in The Kentucky Derby were black, is taking some guff for picking FIU by 7. He's being accused of being a Kentucky homer. Loyalties are so divided between Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana in the C-J's coverage area -- The Hoosier State is across the Ohio River from downtown -- and so emotional that the paper actually used to make sure each school received the same number of inches of coverage to insulate itself against favoritism charges.

VOLLEYBALL

The volleyball team went 2-2 over the weekend at The Blue Raider Bash at Middle Tennessee State, beating Austin Peay and East Tennessee State and losing to Auburn and Missouri. Individually, Jovana Bjelica racked up 76 kills in 15 sets, 35 digs and nine blocks, good enough to be named to the All-Tournament Team and the Sun Belt's Player of the Week.

 

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This is great news for FIU.. With a 30,000-seat stadium and a winning team this program is getting a lot of momentum. Better thing are going to come this way..

POW for player of the week right? Not year? So that means we are at 20,000 capacity, then we enclose to make it 30,000? I'll tell you what, they need to make the people who work the games a wee bit friendlier. The student sec was rockin, but there should be some spill over to the pedestrian seats as well. UCF game will be historic, but the Knights will have a LOT of family in the stands. I remeber we should've beat a ranked USF team and the Panther loyal were screaming 'Over Rated..'. Then a Bull said, 'at least we are rated.' Damn that would've been a great victory. Freakin zebras..

Good to see the expansion finally happening. The Louisville game on Friday will be a big one to keep the momentum going.

We need to beat Louisville. It's very possible.

I hope all of the FIU fans are starting to believe in me when I said I cursed UM football and blessd FIU football. The OB was my santuary & they destroyed it! President Shalala I told you I would do this, how many years of this will it take until you believe of my OB curse. FIU thank you for letting the OB die with pride and winning the last game unlike UM. I will continue to bless thee! FIU stadium will be the new OB. The only way I will ever lift the curse is the day, UM plays football at FIU Stadium. That will be the day I will get my revenge. Long live my beloved OB!!!!

DJN, whats the updated capacity on the stadium going to be? in your article u said around 20k but i know we have a posted attendance of 23000... whats the real #

CJ, the capacity won't change much. There isn't an exact number -- the official release says 20K to 25K -- but various FIU folks have always told me the change will be greater in how the place looks than how many it holds.

"This is needed right now," Garcia said.
Uh, rationally speaking, no, actually. It's not.

I'm all for improving the stadium. But what's the point of increasing the seating capacity when our fans can only fill half of the stadium right now.

Bridget and Miami South Paw,

Aside from the fact that FIU just achieved its best season ticket sales in history, there are other reasons as to why they've decided to close off the north end. Aesthetics aside, conference realignment is a MAJOR possibility. At the very least, FIU will be in Conference USA sooner rather than later and therefore the stadium expansion comes hand in hand.

The 45,000k capacity is not yet a formality and not required at this time.

The numbers of seats will increase by default, by eliminating the small bleachers that sit further behind the visitors bench than the newer, bigger stands around the rest of the stadium. Just by putting the new stands that make it a perfrect wraparound bowl,and eliminating the old ones, the stadium adds I would guess, anywhere from 1,5000-4,000 seats.

It's more to "finish" the stadium and make it look nice, while at the same time adding some extra seats which might be needed in the near future, if FIU keeps winning and taking care of business.

** 1,500 to 4,000 seats.

Fanatic, I think we get a net gain of something like 3,000-3,500 seats. It could be more though. I don't think people realize just how much larger the south side bleachers are than the current north side bleachers.

This is good for FIU. If we want to move to C-USA or BIG EAST, we need to upgrade stadium and facilities.

FIU will soon eclipse UM.

I agree with SUICYCO - FIU can only exist in the context of what's happening at UM.

DJN, I really enjoy your writing style. Keep up the great work. As for all the other issues regarding the stadium they are irrelevant. Just keep winning and make sure that you get the student section in there. The current students are the key to the future. Building a fan base that will go to all the games regardless of record will take a long time, and depends on the students.

Happy to see all the love for FIU! When i started here 4 years ago, the school wassnt nearly as beautiful.

Every year theres something new. this school is moving foward at an exponential rate and im so proud to be apart of its growth

@Babalawo, I need your phone number. I need you to do some "favors" for me.....

;p

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